MASON, W.Va. — With a start like that you can put it on cruise control early.
The Southern girls basketball team scored the first 26 points of the game Monday night, as the Lady Tornadoes rolled to a 61-16 victory over Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division host Wahama.
Southern (9-3, 7-1 TVC Hocking) led 17-0 through the opening quarter and pushed its lead to 37-6 by halftime. The Lady Tornadoes outscored Wahama (0-9, 0-8) 19-to-2 in the third period and led 56-8 headed into the finale. With the SHS starters resting in the fourth period, the Lady Falcons ended the game on a 8-to-5 run, but fell by a 61-16 final.
“We had some goals tonight,” SHS head coach Kent Wolfe said. “We played a lot of our reserve players, they executed and it was important for us to get some of those kids some minutes. We wanted to work on execution in the zone and I think we got some things accomplished tonight.”
Southern was led by junior Faith Teaford, who turned in a double-double performance of 15 points and 11 rebounds to go with a team-best two blocks. SHS senior Ali Deem marked 10 points and led the Lady Tornado defense with four steals, while Savannah Bailey finished with nine points, five rebounds, three steals and a block.
Sierra Cleland, a junior at SHS, scored seven points, pulled in seven rebounds and had a game-high five assists, while Haley Hill finished with five points and three assists. Jaiden Roberts, Shelbi Dailey and Josie Cundiff each scored four points off the bench, while Paige VanMeter had two and Lauren Lavender scored one for the Lady Tornadoes.
Southern shot 20-of-37 (54.1 percent) from the free throw line and 19-of-44 (43.2 percent) from the field, including 3-of-11 (27.3 percent) from beyond the arc. As a team the Purple and Gold had 26 defensive rebounds, 10 offensive rebounds, 12 assists, 12 steals, three blocks and 12 turnovers.
“I don’t believe in running it up and I don’t think we did tonight,” Wolfe said. “Coach Arnott is doing a fine job with (Wahama), he’s a patient guy so they need to be patient with him.”
Wahama senior Olivia Hill led the way for the hosts, marking seven points, seven rebounds and three steals in the setback. Destiny Ingles finished with four points, Maddie VanMatre and Nena Hunt each had two, while Faith Henry scored one point and had a team-best two assists for WHS. VanMatre also came up with three steals in the game, while Molly Fisher pulled in four rebounds.
“We decreased our turnovers, we’re still not shooting well, we’re all still tense and unsure of ourselves, and it shows,” Arnott said. “We have to work on confidence, our kids are learning to play and the program has to be patient. I see progress coming with the young kids.”
The Lady Falcons shot 2-of-7 (28.6 percent) from the free throw line and 7-of-39 (17.9 percent) from the field, including 0-of-7 from three-point range. As a team the Red and White had 18 defensive rebounds, four offensive boards, five assists, eight steals and 25 turnovers.
“I’m not discouraged,” Arnott said. “I’ve checked to see if I have quitters and I don’t. I called an 8 a.m. practice during Christmas break and all 14 of them were here. They haven’t quit. They’ll be here tomorrow night and they’ll be working.”
Wahama has now lost 45 consecutive TVC Hocking games, with the Lady Falcons last league victory coming over Southern on January 14, 2013 in Mason.
“Lets face it, the TVC Hocking is a excellent basketball league for girls,” Arnott said. “You’ve got some great teams in the TVC and it’s their job to come down to us. It’s our job to bring our program up to them and that’s what we’re working on doing.”
These teams will meet again on February 4, in Racine.
Southern will try for its third straight victory on Thursday at Miller, while Wahama returns to action at home Wednesday night against in-county rival Hannan.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.