Storm surge stuns Panthers
Southern Guilford’s best player had just fouled out — with a mysterious technical, no less — and John Sullivan made the go-ahead free throw.
Ledford owned a one-point lead and the ball with 38 seconds to play, yet suffered a 60-59 defeat following a painful turn of events in Friday night’s Mid-Piedmont 3A Conference clash.
“Couple of costly turnovers, rebound on a free throw – bunch of freshmen and sophomores out there,” Panthers coach Jonathan Leonard said. “Our guys fought their butts off. I can’t ask anything more from them.”
Ledford owned the lead most of the second half after outscoring the Storm 12-5 in the third quarter, but never took command. Southern trimmed the margin to 53-51 before Ledford’s Kevin Pressley broke the press for a layup. Two more Pressley free throws pushed the score to 57-53, but with 51 seconds to go, Southern was within one: Jaqwan McCauley made one free throw and missed the second, but Shamar McColl timed his jump just right on the high rebound for a putback.
After one Ledford foul shot made it 58-56, Southern’s Stevon Davis zoomed down the lane for a layup that tied the score – for a second. A referee emerged from under the basket with a technical on McCauley that left Southern’s coaches stunned. Sullivan made the foul shot to put the Panthers ahead 59-58, but an attempt on the ensuing possession to pass the ball inside rather than hold it and wait to be fouled gave Southern new life.
A foul was called during the turnover, and freshman Rayshawn Knight calmly knocked down two free throws for the lead with 17 seconds remaining. Ledford raced the other way for a layup attempt that rolled off the rim, and the rebound was tapped to Southern at the other end.
“They came through,” coach Greg Thompson said of his players. “We could’ve given up after the technical, but they kept coming. This is a win I hope gets us going in the right direction.”
The Storm improved to 8-10 overall and 3-2 in the MPC. McCauley ended with a game-high 20 points to go with 12 rebounds and three blocks. McColl had 12 points, Felix Whitsett eight and Davis seven.
Ledford big man Skylar McGee enjoyed an impressive duel with McCauley, scoring 16 points and adding six rebounds and three blocks. Pressley, Dylan Jones and Johnathan Turner all had nine points for the Panthers, who dropped to 7-11, 1-5.
“We’re working,” Leonard said. “There’s a lot of good things that are going to happen for this team.”