THOMASVILLE — As football season winds to a close for many programs in the area this week, athletes will hang up their cleats and return to the gym for a new basketball campaign to begin.

Practice opened for non-football athletes earlier this month, and fewer than three weeks remain until East Davidson and Wheatmore tip off the 2021-22 hoops season in a Nov. 22 clash. Dates and times for another event that will headline the winter sports calendar were released earlier this week, as the Christmas Classic returns to Ledford High School after COVID-19 suspended the annual holiday tradition last year.

On the Monday following Christmas, Thomasville and Southwest Randolph get things started at 11:30 a.m. in what will be a full slate of 12 boys games Dec. 27-29. The Bulldogs will be helmed by a familiar face in a new seat this season after the school announced the hire of Ann Ferguson to become the new men’s basketball coach.

Ferguson coached the Thomasville women’s basketball program since the 2018-19 hoops season and also taught health and physical education at the school. After three seasons of guiding one program to success on and off the court, she is seeking to do the same with a group she became familiar with in the classroom.

Led by several two-sport athletes, the Bulldogs managed a winning record in an abbreviated spring season earlier this year. Janhri Luckey averaged 12 points per game as the team’s leading scorer.

At press time, Luckey and the Bulldogs were scheduled to host their first-round playoff game Friday. As soon as Ferguson — who is the first woman hired to lead a men’s varsity basketball program in Davidson County — has a full complement of players, she will begin the task of readying her squad to compete for a title.

That challenge was made quite different by realignment that shuffled a 10-team conference around, leaving only six. Eleven months ago, the NCHSAA released its designations for classification that sent Thomasville to the 1-A West and Ledford to the 3-A West. East Davidson remained as the lone 2-A Thomasville area school.

Thomasville and East will compete this season in a split 1-A/2-A league with Salisbury, North Rowan, West and South Davidson.

The Golden Eagles will look to get back on the right side of the ledger as they did Nov. 25, 2019 when the team defeated South Rowan.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.