Thompson opens Powell era with dominant win

Published 3:47 pm Wednesday, November 14, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

ALABASTER – It’s a new era for the Thompson Warriors basketball team under head coach Dru Powell, who is trying to change the expectation in his first year at the helm.

In his first game, and the team’s first game in the new Warrior Arena, we got a glimpse of what his coaching ability brings to Thompson with a 54-33 victory against county foe Montevallo.

“Just a really good team win tonight,” Powell said after his first victory. “We’re missing several guys due to football, but these guys stepped up and really worked hard and are very deserving of what they just accomplished. I’m really proud of them and excited about the direction of our program.”

As expected, the nerves of the first game seemed to play a factor in the first quarter, especially for the home team.

The Warriors started on a 4-0 run thanks to strong play on both ends of the floor, but that was followed by a 5-0 run for the Bulldogs, who took a 5-4 lead thanks to strong post play from Jamarius Carter.

Thompson struggled to handle the full-court press from Montevallo early on, which led to the Bulldogs taking a 11-5 lead after going on an 11-1 run.

That’s when the Warriors turned up the defensive pressure with traps at the half court. With the pressure, Thompson was able to close the quarter on an 8-1 run of its own to take a 13-12 lead at the end of the frame thanks to two free throws from Grant Hopkins with no time left on the clock.

Stealing away the momentum at the end of the first quarter led to a strong start in the second quarter as well thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from Brad Lewis and Zack Littleton to extend the lead to 19-12 and the run to 14-1.

Still, Montevallo was able to do some things to exploit Thompson’s constant pressure and cut the Warriors’ lead to six points at one point thanks to an and-1 from Carter that made the score 27-21.

Jack Dorolek, however, answered quickly with a layup just before the half to put the Warriors on top 29-21 at the break.

Still, Powell wasn’t as happy as he wanted to be at the half because of the lapses in defense at times. 

“In the first half we tried to trap them a bit more and gave up a few easy baskets,” he said. “We talked a little bit at halftime and decided to switch to a zone to make them shoot over us.”

That change helped Thompson start the third quarter on an 8-0 run to extend the lead to 16 points, which seemed insurmountable. Omar Morton hit a 3-pointer for the Bulldogs to stop the run, but Montevallo was able to take a 38-24 lead at the end of the frame.

While the Bulldogs were still within striking distance down just 14 points, Thompson really turned up the pressure on both ends of the floor and ended the final quarter in dominant fashion with a 16-9 run for the 54-33 win.

“We defended the 3-point line very well and played strong defensively in the second half to limit them to just 12 points,” Powell said of the successful adjustment at the half.

The Warriors were 14-19 from the free throw line, which was a big reason for the win.

Thompson was led by Chaney Johnson with 13 points, while Littleton added 12 points on three 3-pointers. Steven Walker added 11 points and Dorolek added 10.

The Bulldogs were led by 13 points from Jamarius Carter.

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