Thompson edges Pelham in area contest

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

PELHAM — Thompson High School boys’ basketball coach Patrick Davis lamented the fact that his team struggled to close out several close games a year ago, including a one-point loss to rival Pelham.

The one-point, two-point and three-point losses piled up last season, but the upperclassmen’s frustrating experience last year is paying off during the 2010-2011 season.

The Warriors turned a tight game in the last minute into a 54-49 win over Pelham in a Class 6A, Area 10 contest Jan. 18.

Senior guard Ryan Coleman and junior guard Demarcus Threatt combined to drain 6-of-8 free throws in the final minute to help Thompson clinch an important area victory.

“Winning close games is a learning process,” Davis said. “I think they learned a lot from last season.”

Coleman and Threatt led the Warriors (15-8 overall, 3-0 in Class 6A, Area 10) with 12 points each. Coleman, who hit 4-of-5 field goals, dished out a team-high eight assists. Threatt grabbed a team-high six rebounds.

Jaylon Jones added 11 points and four rebounds. Ryan Spence contributed eight points.

Kenny Nabors and Elisha Neville chipped in four points each.

Tanner Rice led Pelham (8-11 overall, 0-3 in Class 6A, Area 10) with a game-high 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor. Rice also grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds to finish with a double-double.

Alec Rash added 13 points and six rebounds. Tyler Minyard contributed seven points. Tony Williams, Cameron Slane and Graham Reilly finished with four points each. Reilly also dished out a team-high five assists and finished with three steals.

The Warriors jumped out to an early 5-0 lead fueled by a basket and a free throw from Coleman. Threatt hit back-to-back 3-pointers before Spence drained a shot from beyond the arc to cap an 11-0 run by Thompson to end the first quarter, which gave the Warriors a 20-9 advantage after the opening period.

Thompson extended its lead to as many as 12 points at 25-13 in the second quarter following a layup by Jones. Pelham closed the second quarter with an 11-5 run and cut the Warriors’ lead to 30-24 at the end of the first half following an offensive rebound and putback by Rice at the buzzer.

The Panthers cut the deficit to four points at 41-37 following a 3-pointer by Rash with 2:09 remaining in the third quarter. Coleman drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Thompson a 46-39 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Pelham opened the fourth quarter with a 7-2 run to cut the Thompson lead to 48-46 with 1:34 remaining following a 3-pointer by Minyard, who fouled out on the next defensive possession.

With the Panthers trailing by two points with one minute remaining, Rash saw his floater bounce off the back rim. The Warriors hit their free throws down the stretch to extend their lead.

Davis, whose team now owns victories over all three area foes Hoover, Oak Mountain and Pelham, said pre-game preparation has made the difference in area wins this season.

“It’s a testament to their preparation,” Davis said. “This group is preparing harder than any group I’ve been around.”