Thompson back after three decades

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Regional play has been unfamiliar territory for the Thompson Warriors boys basketball program for a while.

The only person with regional experience when the Warriors take the court at Wallace State Community College this morning is head coach Jeff Nichols, who led his Vincent Yellow Jackets to the regional final in 2000, finishing two points shy of a trip to Birmingham.

&8220;Obviously we&8217;re not experienced in region play and Sparkman is, but we&8217;re going to go up there and give it our best,&8221; Nichols said.

He hopes his Warriors will not leave behind the game plan that has led them to 11-straight wins and an undefeated effort since the calendar rolled over to 2007.

&8220;We&8217;ve only played bad in two or three games this year. They&8217;re playing with confidence right now,&8221; Nichols said of his team.

The Warriors advance to the Northwest regional after posting an 86-64 victory over Northridge on Friday.

Laderreous Kelley led the way with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Gary Cunningham followed with 16 points. Dameion Bland collected 13 points, while Siddeeq Cooper had 12 and Jaquezz Brown added 11.

&8220;We had five guys in double figures that night and everybody pitched in. We average about three guys in double figures. If we can have five guys in double figures for us, we feel pretty confident that we&8217;re going to win that game,&8221; Nichols said.

Focus now shifts to Sparkman, who Nichols considers to be very athletic and a very good basketball team.

&8220;We want to be able to play our style against them and get things up temp,&8221; he said.

Tip-off is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today, with Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa and Austin meeting at 10:30 a.m. The winners will meet in Saturday&8217;s regional final at 10:40 a.m.