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Nice Shootin’, Leah

Thomas becomes latest member of Heritage 1,000-point club
vs. Seymour win sis 15pts 013
Heritage senior Leah Thomas receives a commemorative plaque for joining the 1,000-point club from Lady Mountaineer coach Rick Howard prior to Tuesday’s game. Photos by Jennifer Hutsell

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Defense, rebounding, both things can really get a basketball team going.

Thomas pops for two of her game-high 17 points.

Thomas gets to the basket for two.

Leah Thomas has something else you might try. Worked pretty good when Seymour mounted a not-to-be-ignored third-quarter charge Tuesday night.

“We got back on offense and popped some, which is nice,” the Heritage senior said.

With the surge, the Lady Mountaineers powered clear for a 64-36 win over the Lady Eagles on a night Thomas was honored prior to tipoff for becoming the latest member of the school’s 1,000-point club.

Heritage coach Rick Howard presented Thomas with a plaque at midcourt to commemorate the occasion. Thomas joins fellow senior Kassi Knight in the club, Knight reaching the plateau last season, giving the Lady Mountaineers better than 2,000 points in the starting lineup.

Thomas led all scorers Tuesday with 17 points, including three treys, in knocking the Lady Eagles from the ranks of the unbeaten. Putting in a full night, the Lady Mountaineer floor general grabbed five rebounds and dished just as many assists in a third-quarter stretch that removed all doubt.

“I just play my game,” Thomas said. “I didn’t really think about (the 1,000 points). I just got out there and hustled. I like scoring, but I also like doing the other things that win games.”

Shooting guard Mikayla Hutsell lived up to her position, pumping in 14 points with a pair of deep shots from behind the arc. Knight finished with nine, Emma Rothery six.

On the boards, Heritage (3-0) was dominant, paced by a stunning 14-rebound effort from Maddie Sutton. Rothery raked off seven caroms.

Mikayla Hutsell lets it rip from 3.

Mikayla Hutsell lets it rip from 3.

Libby Gardner and Knight sparked Heritage early with a pair of threes, and the Lady Mountaineers were on the move after a quarter, leading 15-7. The margin stood at 27-13 at the half.

Seymour engaged to start the third, roaring to within 27-20 at the six-minute mark. During a timeout at that point, Howard tasked Thomas to put the pedal down.

“They made that run on us,” he said. “I called that timeout and told (Thomas) she’s got to step up for us.”

Thomas started popping some right away, drilling a 3 from the right side out of the timeout. She quickly found Hutsell in the corner for another bucket, then located Hutsell unattended at the top of the circle for a trey.

“When she’s hitting and driving, it pulls the defense to her and she pops it out to us,” Hutsell said.

Thomas hit again from 3 at the three-minute mark.

The nets didn’t even move!

Just saying.

By the close of the third, Heritage had opened the lead to 46-29 and was never again threatened.

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