Thompson downs Spain Park, improves to 9-1

Published 4:55 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2018

By SETH HAGAN | For the Reporter

ALABASTER – The Thompson Warriors’ best start in years continued to roll Tuesday night, Dec 11, as they took down their first opponent in Class 7A, county foe, Spain Park.

The Warriors’ free throw shooting in the clutch was once again on display, and they put on a defensive clinic late in the game to shut down the threat from the Jaguars for a 45-38 win.

“I felt like we had a good game plan going in, I felt like our guys executed well particularly in the second half,” said head coach Dru Powell. “We made a few adjustments after they were hurting us in the post and just super happy to get a win over a very good Spain Park team.”

In a defensive grudge match, things began predictably slow in the first quarter as both teams struggled to get going. Spain Park didn’t score until the fourth minute and, after hitting two 3-pointers to start, the Warriors went scoreless for a four-minute stretch of their own.

That gap allowed the Jaguars to catch up and eventually take the lead just before the end of the first quarter, 9-8.

The lead changed hands a couple of times in the opening minutes of the second quarter, but the Jags found a hole in the heart of Thompson’s man defense.

Center Jaelon Agee was the main benefactor of this as his teammates found him early and often in the second quarter. At one point he scored eight straight points, all in the paint, for Spain Park as their lead grew to 24-17.

Two more threes from Jack Dorolek and Zach Littleton in the quarter kept the Warriors within reach as they closed the halftime score to 24-21.

Thompson stayed hot coming out of halftime with Littleton and Dolorek each hitting their third three of the contest to take the lead for good. Julian Woods got in the act with a long range bomb of his own and Littleton hit another just before the end of the quarter as the Warriors flipped the script to take a 37-31 lead going into the final period.

The fourth quarter was a marathon of its own. The Jaguars ramped up the defensive intensity and turned the Warriors over multiple times and even grabbed five offensive rebounds to give themselves some extra opportunities.

However, Thompson was relentless on the defensive end contesting every shot and only allowed the Jags four baskets after halftime.

“Getting stops on the defensive end was key,” Powell said. “Being able to secure the ball and obviously knocking down our foul shots was clutch for us in the fourth quarter.”

As both teams ended up in the bonus, a free throw contest ensued and that’s where the Warriors separated themselves down the stretch. Thompson went 8-11 from the charity stripe while Spain Park couldn’t find a rhythm converting on only three of their 13 attempts.

Another big factor was the absence of Agee for the Jags who was limited to two shot attempts and missed his only free throw.

“We really just wanted to keep the ball off of him. We wanted to try and front him and make sure we had extra help on the back side,” Powell said. “I felt like we did a much better job of that in the second half, proud of our guys.”

AJ Bonham hit all six of his free throws in the fourth and finished with seven points, all at the line. Littleton led all scorers with 12 points while Dolorek finished with 11 for the Warriors.