The Thompson Warriors found themselves in a must-win game in their area race when the Tuscaloosa County Wildcats paid a visit to Warrior Arena Friday, Jan 18. The Warriors had already gone on the road and defeated the Wildcats soundly and took care of business in a similar fashion winning the rematch, 68-48.
“I️ felt like tonight was a complete team effort,” said Powell. “I️ felt like we played hard, smart and played together and the boys were very unselfish tonight. It was a great team win.”
Thompson (18-7, 2-2) came out on fire in front of the home crowd powered by a great start from point guard Grant Hopkins who drilled his first shot from long range and followed that with an old fashioned three point play minutes later. He would go on to score all eight of his points in the first quarter as the Warriors hit three shots from beyond the arc to go up 16-2 out of the gate and finish the quarter with a 20-8 lead.
AJ Bonham also got going from the perimeter for Thompson hitting two triples and another basket to finish with all eight of his points in the first half. The trend of different scorers taking over the game would continue throughout the night. Warriors head coach Dru Powell spoke after the game about his team’s ability to spread the ball around.
“I️ think we’re a very balanced team and that helps us,” said Powell. “So if one guy’s not having a great night we seem to have another guy that can usually help make up that slack. We’ve got eight guys who are averaging between five and ten points.”
Jack Dorolek was another one of those guys for Thompson scoring five in the second quarter and also finished the night with eight points.
Tuscaloosa County’s free throw shooting bit them badly in the second quarter as they had several chances to get back in the game. The Wildcats stepped to the charity stripe 16 times before halftime, but only came away with five points. As the buzzer signaled the end of the first half, Thompson held a comfortable 28-16 lead.
The Wildcats cut Thompson’s lead to nine in the opening minutes of the third quarter, but the Warriors got hot again hitting three more shots from downtown. This time starters Brad Lewis and JB Mitchell combined for every point of a 10-0 run that gave THS their largest lead of the game to that point at 40-21.
Up 45-29 heading into the game’s final period it would be senior Chris Hopkins who would come off the bench to close out the game for the Warriors. Hopkins was extremely active on the boards in his limited time grabbing seven rebounds in the fourth quarter alone and added eight points in just nine minutes of play.
“Our bench was huge tonight, we pressed a good bit tonight and whenever you play that fast, that uptempo you want that depth,” said Dru Powell. “Our guys came off the bench and played hard and we were able to rest some other guys.”
The fourth quarter was the most productive for both teams they headed to the free throw line a combined 26 times. All 13 players on Thompson’s roster scored at least one basket.
The Warriors will host the second game of their five game homestand versus the Helena Huskies Saturday, Jan 19 with tip-off scheduled for 6 p.m. Thompson’s next area matchup will be with Hoover at home Tuesday, Jan 22.