Shelby County beats Thompson, improves to 14-1

Published 10:44 am Thursday, January 3, 2019

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

COLUMBIANA – The Shelby County Wildcats have been one of the state’s hottest teams, but coming off a tough first loss of the season by two points to Class 7A McGill-Toolen last week, it was going to be interesting to see how the No. 7 team in Class 5A would react against another 7A opponent on Wednesday, Jan. 2, as they played host to county foe Thompson.

Facing adversity for the first time this season, Shelby County never looked to force things and handled the game with poise eventually pulling off the bounce-back win by a final score of 63-50 for their second victory over the Warriors this season to improve to 14-1 (2-0). 

Out of the gates, both teams had three players responsible for their scoring in the first quarter, highlighted by Shelby County’s Nataley Whitner and Thompson’s Brooklyn Oden.

Oden was able to put up eight points for the Warriors in the opening period, and Thompson needed every one of them with Shelby County catching fire early.

Whitner was able to knock down three field goals for six points in the first quarter, while Madsion Purcell and Maggie West each had four points to give the Wildcats 14 in the frame.

Oden was accompanied by three out of four made free throws from Malaysia Samuel and Alecia Reasor, but it wasn’t enough to keep Shelby County from taking a 14-11 lead at the end of the quarter.

In the second period, Oden was able to stay hot from the field posting six more points, but she only got help from one more scorer as London Wooley also hit a field goal to give the Warriors 19 points at the half.

Shelby County on the other hand was able to keep up the balanced effort with four players scoring in the period. It wasn’t by any means a dominant offensive effort, but the different scorers led to 10 more points, which allowed the Wildcats to extend their lead to five points, 24-19, at the half.

A big reason for that lead was the eight points apiece from Whitner and West at the break.

Coming out of the locker room in the second half, Shelby County continued its strong play and eventually went on a quick 4-0 run to extend the lead to 28-19 forcing Thompson head coach Jovanka Ward to call a timeout just 1:06 into the period.

That started a quarter of runs as the Warriors answered with a 3-0 run to get it back to six points before the Wildcats went on an 8-4 run to eventually grab a 10-point lead at 36-26 late in the third.

Shelby County eventually extended the lead to 12 points, the largest of the game, thanks to back-to-back offensive rebounds and put backs.

Thompson pulled it back to single digits after a 3-pointer from McKenzie Saylor and a layup by Oden, before the Wildcats got an and-1 from Purcell to close out the quarter and take a 42-31 lead into the fourth.

The Warriors, however, started the final period with the exact energy they needed to challenging shots and going after rebounds with a new effort, which led to a 7-2 run to cut the double-digit deficit down to a six-point deficit once again at 44-38.

Just as they had in the third quarter, Shelby County answered back with a 7-2 run of its own to extend the lead back to double digits at 51-40 with 3:50 to play.

That lead held up over the next minute until Oden hit a running layup to make it 51-42, but with 2:24 left after West hit two free throws, the 11-point deficit proved to be too much for the Warriors to overcome.

Both teams traded baskets in the final two minutes, but Thompson was never able to get closer than 10 points, as the Wildcats held on for the 63-50 victory.

Shelby County was led by 18 points from Whitner, 17 points from West and 11 points from Purcell.

Thompson was led by 32 points from Oden.

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