Spain Park edges Thompson by 3 to remain unbeaten

By SETH HAGAN | Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – The Thompson Warriors put a serious scare in the undefeated Spain Park Jaguars as they hosted a big county matchup that did not disappoint.

The Warriors led almost the entire game, but the Jags’ big-game experience came in handy as they pulled out a tough 35-32 road win in the final moments to remain unbeaten and improve to 11-0 on the season.

From the outset it was clear this was going to be a defensive grudge match. The Warriors came out in a zone defense shutting down penetration to the middle and forcing the Jaguars to shoot from the outside.

They weren’t able to find the touch, and Grant Hopkins got hot for Thompson. The point guard scored seven in the opening period, while Spain Park took advantage of Colin Turner for three buckets.

The Jags took a 6-5 lead on Turner’s final basket of the quarter, but Jack Dorolek hit a three for Thompson with Hopkins adding another basket to take a 10-6 lead after the first quarter.

The teams traded hard-fought baskets in the second quarter, but it was Thompson who continued to have the touch from long range. Dorolek and sophomore Carson Pringle both hit treys to give the Warriors some breathing room, but J.R. Lambert kept it close scoring his first two shots in the second period.

Steven Walker stepped up for Thompson late in the quarter and hit a couple of baskets in the paint with his team up two to take a 20-14 lead into the locker room.

But the Jags continued to stay within a couple of baskets as they slowly began to break down Thompson’s zone. Quicker passes and better rotations were the key as Spain Park found Blake Floyd open on the perimeter.

Floyd didn’t hesitate and made all of Spain Park’s shots from long range, including two in the third quarter.

Cam Crawford’s second basket of the third tied the game at 24-24 to cap off a 10-4 run to start the third quarter, but Hopkins hit his second three of the game for Thompson to give them the lead headed into the final frame.

The Jags seized the momentum swing, however, hitting their first two shots of the fourth quarter.

After Brad Lewis gave the Warriors the lead back shortly after by one point, Floyd’s third triple of the game was answered by a tough three-point play from Steven Walker’ in a back-and-forth game.

In a pivotal moment, Thompson forced a miss defensively but Turner was there grabbing the offensive rebound and was fouled after going back up with the ball.

He hit both free throws putting the pressure back on the home team. Spain Park got a stop on the other end with less than a minute to go, but couldn’t convert the one-and-one bonus free throw leaving the door open for Thompson.

After the Warriors moved it around the three-point line, Walker attacked the basket again trying to split two defenders and drew the foul.

However, in a gut wrenching sequence, Walker saw both of his free throws dribble around the rim, but miss their mark keeping Spain Park in control.

Josh Harrington sank two more free throws for the Jags who would stop several last second shots from Thompson to preserve the win and their record.

Turner led Spain Park in their lowest scoring affair of the season with 10 points followed by Floyd’s nine.

Hopkins led the Warriors with 10 points, while Walker was close behind at nine points.

The loss drops Thompson to 5-3 on the year. The win is Spain Park’s third by one possession.