Helena defeats Thompson in overtime thriller

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

ALABASTER–A three-pointer by Helena’s Justin Stuckey to open the overtime period and clutch free throws by Dionte Tolbert and Jon Brown down the stretch helped the Huskies pull off a dramatic 57-51 win on the road against Thompson on Nov. 29.

The victory was a solid road win for the Huskies in the early part of the season but the game didn’t start off quite the way Helena wanted it to.

Helena scored in the first few seconds of the game as Cirrahn McFarland took the ball off the opening tip and made an acrobatic layup while being fouled. The made free throw put Helena up 3-0 early but that was the main highlight in the quarter for the Huskies.

Thompson’s Thomas was the Warriors main scoring threat in the first quarter as he accounted for 11 of Thompson’s 17 points highlighted by a deep three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Warriors a 17-9 lead. Thomas finished the game with 23 points to lead all scorers.

In the second quarter, Helena would fight back to cut the lead to 25-19 but Huskies head coach Chris Laatsch didn’t think his team played to their capabilities in the first half.

“I didn’t think that we played very well in the first half,” Laatsch said. “We didn’t finish the first quarter well and we had two turnovers that led to four straight points for them. We got the ball down four with a chance to end the quarter that way and we have two turnovers. I thought our kids answered that and cut it to six at the half. Still didn’t feel like we were playing well and I thought coach Cheatham does an unbelievable job. His kids are well coached and disciplined.”

The second half was a different story for Helena as seven different players scored points for the Huskies in the third quarter as Helena took a 37-36 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“We kept grinding, and I thought our kids as young as we are showed a lot of poise which I was real proud of because the game had a lot of moments where we could’ve folded but we didn’t flinch and we kept battling,” Laatsch said.

The fourth quarter was a back-in-forth affair that saw Helena earn their largest lead of the night 44-39 with five minutes to play but the Warriors would not go away.

With Helena clinging to a four point lead with three minutes to play, Thompson’s Thomas and Wilson made two buckets to tie it 48-48 with under one minute to play.

Helena had a couple of chances to win the game in the final seconds of regulation but a missed layup and a missed shot with 2.3 seconds left sent the game to overtime tied 48-48.

In overtime, the Helena defense stood tall and the difference was free throws and made shots. Helena went 4-5 from the foul line and Thompson went 0-2 as the Huskies pulled away to win 57-51.

“We had four kids in double-figures,” Laatsch said. “Cirrahn McFarland a senior played his best game for us. I was real proud of Cirrahn. He made some mistakes in the first quarter but bounced back and had a really solid game and was a leader, which kept us from being rattled.”

Brown led the Huskies with 15 points, while Tolbert, McFarland and Stuckey each finished with 10 points in the game.