Ballard too strong for Male, wins 58-31 in Seventh Region girls' basketball tournament

With Javonna Layfield doing it all and the rest of the Ballard High School girls’ basketball team playing well from start to finish, the Bruins rolled past Male 58-31 Thursday afternoon in the semifinals of the Seventh Region Tournament, coming within one victory of their first state tournament trip.

Layfield, a Miss Basketball finalist and the Seventh Region Player of the Year, had 21 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and three steals to lead the Bruins’ dominant effort at Valley High. Ballard (24-4), No. 9 in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings, advanced to face Sacred Heart, which beat Manual 57-42, in Saturday’s 5 p.m. title game.

“We’re very motivated,” Layfield said. “I feel like we’re kind of the underdog in certain situations. We’re not picked to come out of the region, and we don’t have a region banner at our school. So it would be making history (to win the title), and it would shut a lot of the doubters up.”

Ballard jumped ahead 11-0 within two minutes, led 17-10 at the first quarter, 30-14 at halftime and by as much as 32 points late in the game. The Bruins shot 56.5 percent from the floor and held Male (21-10) to 23.6 percent, including just 1 of 16 on 3-point tries.

“That was an impressive start, and I was totally surprised, in a good way,” Ballard coach Frank Wright said. “… When that happens to you (as an opponent), whatever your scouting plan was, at least from my experience, just goes out the window, and it’s survive and play your way back. It was bad luck for them, good for us.”

I’liyah Green had 10 points and nine rebounds for Male, which had a seven-game winning streak snapped.

Coach Champ Ligon said his team didn’t have much of an answer for Layfield, who made 9 of 13 shots from the floor, while Male was “just shooting bricks most of the night.”

“She’s a tremendous player,” he said. “She got my vote for Miss Basketball, and she played like Miss Basketball tonight. We could have done a little better job defensively maybe, but she was on fire and took over the game.”

Ligon said Male, which has only one senior, played tight after its stretch of fine play late in the season.

“We’ll use this as a learning experience, and next year if we’re lucky enough to get back in this position, hopefully we’ll come out and do a better job,” he said, adding it’s been one of his favorite teams to coach.

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