Warriors send seniors out with win over Montevallo

Published 10:18 am Monday, February 8, 2016

Thompson’s Michael Freeman scored 32 points to lead the Warriors over Montevallo on senior night. (File)

Thompson’s Michael Freeman scored 32 points to lead the Warriors over Montevallo on senior night. (File)

By AUSTIN FRANKLIN / Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – On Thompson’s senior night, and the last game of the regular season, the Warriors took control and beat Montevallo by a final score of 76-71.

Head coach Patrick Davis spoke about the mindset of the team after the game. “We talked before the game that some teams do different things to honor seniors,” he said. “But I told the team that the best way is to just go win the game.”

It was one of Thompson’s own seniors that led the charge for the Warriors as Michael Freeman dominated in the paint, ending the game with 32 points. Anytime the Bulldogs attempted to send defensive help to cover Freeman, fellow senior Demonte Caffey got open on the perimeter to hit one of his six three-pointers.

The game was defined by missed opportunities early on as Montevallo’s Undreaz Lilly’s defense forced multiple Warrior turnovers. This was only to see Thompson rally and stop Montevallo from executing in transition. Montevallo was slow to establish an offensive rhythm and found themselves down 33-23 at the half as a result.

The same defense that had kept Freeman somewhat in check throughout the first half gave way as Freeman erupted for 12 third-quarter points. Freeman’s third quarter was highlighted by a highlight-reel-worthy dunk. The team’s celebration of the dunk following was actually awarded a technical, but at the time the free throws seemed insignificant.

With Freeman firing on all cylinders, Montevallo’s Tae’ Smith was tasked to provide a similar scoring burst. Smith, who finished with 24 points, was able to generate offense, but the turnover woes from the first half reared their head again in the third. Going into the fourth Thompson held a commanding lead, 59-38.

In the fourth, it was Montevallo senior Jamal Figueroa who provided an offensive boast with two quick threes to start the quarter. What followed was a game of free throw tag as Montevallo started sending Thompson to the strip in an effort to extend the game.

And, oddly enough, the tactic proved effective. Thompson regularly went 1 for 2 from the line and Montevallo aggressively pushed the ball in transition for quick layups and corner three’s. With thirty seconds left in the game, Montevallo had closed the gap to only five points.

After a missed three from Montevallo, it was Freeman at the line for two free throws and the game was effectively over. Thompson celebrated sending their seniors out the easiest way there is: with a win.