Thomas, Ledford girls roll past Storm

Jan. 12, 2013 @ 12:27 AM

 When Emmalee Thomas and the Ledford girls are running their offense and hitting shots, they are a tough team to stop.

Thomas scored 23 points — including 17 in the first quarter — as the Panthers raced out to a big lead early and rolled past Southern Guilford 71-39 in Mid-Piedmont 3A Conference action Friday night at Southern.

“We knew we had to put it all together and we reacted well to the defense,” said Thomas, a senior wing who ranks as one of the best 3-point shooters in the state. “It felt good, because I’ve been struggling. But my team did a great job helping me find open shots.

“I was just on tonight. I made a lot in warmups. My team just got me wide-open. So, that helps when you’re wide-open.

Ledford (12-3, 2-0 MPC) moved the ball quickly on offense, looking to create open shots against the Storm’s defense, and found Thomas open a number of times on the perimeter. She connected five times from 3-point range in the first quarter and seven times for the game.

Courtney Callicutt also had 16 points while Julia Carroll had 11 to help lead the Panthers, who led 27-10 after one quarter — hitting 3s on six straight possessions during one stretch — and 38-21 at halftime.

“When she gets going like that, we don’t see a lot of zone,” Ledford coach John Ralls said with a laugh. “... We moved the ball pretty well, shot it really well in the first quarter and executed pretty well. And they did a nice job of not letting them get into what they wanted to do on offense.”

Southern (6-8, 0-1 MPC), led by Kelena Morris with 11 points and Hailey Chandler with 10, played reasonably well for most of the game. But it simply ran up against a good team with a good game plan, coach William Whitaker said, that exposed its weaknesses.

“First quarter, I thought we hung in there pretty good,” he said. “We’re a young team, and I thought the defense isn’t where we need to be. We gave them, in that first quarter and second quarter, about six to eight straight 3-pointers. That blew the game open.

“We’re young. We’re starting a lot of freshmen, but we’re going to get there. And if we play that second quarter as hard as the first and play four quarters, we’re going to be a team to contend. We’re still young, but we’re going to get there.”

Both teams play again Friday, with the Panthers visiting Southwestern Randolph and the Storm travelling to Asheboro.