Warriors tie Eagles for area lead

Despite a slow start to the season, Christmas break is here and the Thompson Warriors are tied for first place in Class 6A, Area 10.

Siddeeq Cooper led the Warriors with 25 points on the road Tuesday to pull even with Oak Mountain and Hoover after defeating Oak Mountain, 70-68.

“When coach first told us that this could tie the area, we all took that in our thoughts and came out hard and did everything correct,” Cooper said.

Thompson’s game plan was simple, face guard Eagle’s leading scorer Ronnie Mack and keep the defense stable.

Despite Mack putting up 29 points, the plan’s execution paid off, as a steal by Cooper with four seconds remaining took a threat away from Mack. Also, a hand in the face altered Mack’s attempt at a game-tying shot at the buzzer, giving the Warriors the win. Zach Smith chipped in with 12 points, while Hakeem Mitchell and Jordan Chism added 11 each.

Thompson (4-7, 2-1) has now won three of its last five games after starting the year 1-5. The holidays approach with the Warriors on a two-game win streak, something that began because of a new approach in practice.

“We’ve had a couple of good practices this week that we haven’t been having. For us it’s a matter of getting in the gym and busting our rear end again,” Thompson head coach Jeff Nichols said. “(Against Oak Mountain,) we actually played together and played with heart. It meant something to them tonight and that’s the difference in the games we haven’t been winning, it hasn’t meant that much to them.”

Cooper said it might be a turning point for the Warriors.

“We just have to keep going hard and doing everything our coach tells us to do,” he said.

Oak Mountain (8-4, 2-1) closed its fall area schedule with the loss and are looking to bounce back after the holidays to maintain its shared lead in the area.

“We thought we were in good shape,” Oak Mountain head coach Reggie Mantooth said. “Every game in our area is a big game. I’m proud to get those first two (against Hoover and Spain Park).”

Mantooth said he realizes his team has to find offensive production from players other than Mack in order to be successful.

“We’ve got to get better, especially in a game like tonight were we can execute our offense and get some shots from other people and get some other people involved,” Mantooth said. “We can’t rely on Ronnie to lead us every night.”

The two teams will meet again Jan. 9 at Thompson.