Randolph-Clay's Brianna Thorton, a 6-foot sophomore, and her sister Kobi combined for six blocks in Friday's rout of Portal.
CUTHBERT — Looking for the most amazing stat from Randolph-Clay’s 74-28, opening-round win against Portal on Friday night?
How about the number 13 — as in 13 airballs.
That’s how many shots Portal took that never touched the rim, including one that sailed all the way over the backboard.
That’s what Randolph-Clay does to teams.
They might stop calling them airballs at Randolph-Clay, and just start calling them Thornton Balls. .
If you haven’t met R-C’s Thornton Towers — sisters Brianna and Kobi Thornton — just be glad you haven’t met them in the paint. That’s where they live, and that’s where they rule.
Brianna, a 6-foot sophomore, and Kobi, a 6-1 freshman, don’t just block shots (they had three each Friday), they alter almost everything in the paint.
“There is no way to prepare for that,’’ Portal coach Cliff Hubbard said of the Thornton sisters. “You can’t simulate that height in practice. I thought we played OK. We just ran into a buzzsaw.’’
The saw was buzzing early.
Portal went 1-for-17 from the floor in the first quarter, including six Thornton Balls that never got close to the rim, and trailed, 26-2 after the first eight minutes. Portal made just 3 of 27 shots, including 10 Thornton Balls, in the first half and went to the break, down, 46-7.
“We saw them on film against Seminole County,’’ Hubbard said. “But they are a lot faster and a lot bigger in person than they are on film.’’
And a lot more intimidating.
The Thornton girls see it every night. They can see it in their opponents’ eyes when they storm into the pain and then look up at the Thornton Towers.
“I notice it from time to time,’’ Kobi said. “They’re just shocked.’’
Brianna said she sees it, too.
“They get that look,’’ she said. “They look scared. It’s good for us because we play hard on defense and that helps our offense.’’
The Thornton Towers have been altering shots all season and that’s one of the reasons Randolph-Clay opened the Class A state playoffs at home as the No. 1 team in the state with a 27-2 record. The Lady Red Devils have won 17 in a row and 27 of their last 28.
The Lady Red Devils will be at home Tuesday in the Elite 8 round of the playoffs against Region 1-A rival Mitchell County, which advanced by beating Irwin County, 60-46, Friday night. Randolph-Clay beat Mitchell County 73-46 last Saturday to win the Region 1-A title. That title game was so lopsided the mercy-rule was used as the teams played a six-minute fourth quarter.
They had to apply the mercy-rule again Friday against Portal (11-16), which was making its first appearance in the state playoffs. R-C led, 66-17, after three.
“We wanted to come out hard and make a statement. I think we did a pretty good job of that,’’ said Randolph-Clay coach Jennifer Acree, who started mixing in subs in the first quarter. After the first few minutes of the game, it was rare to see the two Thornton sisters on the court at the same time. Acree has only 11 players. All 11 played Friday and nine of them scored.
Kobi led the way with a remarkable night from the floor. She made 9-of-10 shots and hit all four of her free throws to finish with 22 points in less than three quarters. When Hubbard was told that Kobi Thornton went 9-of-10, he said, “She missed a shot? When did she miss one?’’
Brianna finished with 10 points and Whenekia Washington hit 3-of-5 3-point shots and finished with 13 points. Her twin sister, Kanekia, finished with eight points, and senior point guard Adrianna Blackmon had another Blackmon-like night, doing a little of everything.
She went to halftime with six rebounds, six points, six steals and five assists, including a beautiful laser pass inside to Kobi. Blackmon finished with nine points, seven boards and six assists. All of the starters played less than three quarters, about 18-to-19 minutes.
It was a good night for backups such as Shaaliyah Lewis, who led the second five with six points, Kadera Parham, Amanda Hall, Alexis Cuff, Damasia Wilson and Jasmine Wilson, who all saw playing time.
“I was happy the way everyone played,’’ Acree said.
Kobi said it didn’t matter who Randolph-Clay played in the opening round, because the goal is ahead in Macon.
“We just wanted to win (the first round game),’’ she said. “We want to win the state championship. Words can’t describe how much we want to win a state championship.’’
Now that’s intimidating.