Rivals clash: Pelham takes down Thompson in rivalry game

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

ALABASTER – Whenever Pelham and Thompson face off against each other, you know it’s going to be a tough battle between two teams that don’t like each other. Add in the fact that Pelham has one of the best basketball recruits in the state and you have a situation where the Warriors will to win is through the roof. This was the scene on Friday night, Dec. 9, when Thompson played host to Alabama commit Alex Reese and the Pelham Panthers on the hardwood.

While Pelham struggled shooting from the field on the night, Reese put the team on his back down low as his 29 points led the Panthers (7-1) to a 54-33 win over the Warriors.

“The guys did a great job tonight, it’s always tough when you come to Thompson because Pelham and Thompson is a big rivalry,” said Pelham head coach Joel Floyd of his team’s road performance.

Thompson (3-6) is a team built around smaller players that like to run the floor and push the pace, so coming into the game plan for Pelham had to be to slow the pace and feed Reese in the post. Surprisingly Thompson head coach Kelly Cheatham, who said before the season he wanted to play fast, decided to slow the pace of the game down.

“I thought we were able to come out and handle a different game plan that they threw at us, but the guys did a great job of adjusting to it,” Floyd said of the slow paced offense. “I didn’t know which way they were going to go, but I knew they were undersized and would have to do something different so we had a game plan for speed and slow.”

Pelham junior Justin Allison showed on the first possession that the they didn’t mind playing down low as he drove the lane for a layup to put the Panthers up 2-0. The next Pelham possession, Reese got the ball in the post and gathered his own miss twice before finally putting the ball in the basket with ease.

Thompson answered with a three shortly after, but the rest of the first quarter was filled with turnovers, good defense and a lack of offense. After one quarter of play the Warriors had to be happy that they had held the Pelham offense to just seven points as they only trailed 7-5.

The Thompson defense, however, did not carry over into the second quarter. Reese came out and fought through a double team on Pelham’s first possession to make a layup plus a foul. After the made free throw, the Panthers were up 10-5. Over the next couple of possessions Reese made another post bucket and a three pointer to go on a 7-0 run by himself and put Pelham up by 10.

In the quarter, the Panthers held Thompson to one made field goal and just two points as they went on a 14-2 run to go up 21-7 at the half. Reese had 12 of the 14 in the quarter, while Mason Goolsby added two free throws.

The third quarter was much more evenly contested, but at this point in the game, the Warriors need to turn things around and force a one-sided quarter of play. Instead they played even with Pelham in a 14-14 third and still trailed by 14 in a 35-21 game. Pelham had a much more balanced attack with five players scoring.

Justin Allison, who only had one field goal and four points through three quarters, caught fire with nine points on four field goals in the fourth to help lead Pelham to its best offensive quarter of the game and end the Warriors chances. Reese added eight points in the quarter, while Derrick Bush had two as they outscored Thompson 19-12 to win by the final of 54-33.

Reese led Pelham with 29 points and 17 rebounds for a double-double on the night. Allison was the only other double-digit scorer with 13 points while adding seven rebounds five assists and two steals. Bush and Seth Torman both had four as Pelham won its sixth consecutive game.

“My guys did a great job tonight, but we’re here to prepare for the future and we lost a little bit of focus,” Floyd said. “This team can be great and I just want to get everything possible out of the them that I can.”