Thompson wins 2 of 3 at Smoky Mountain Classic

Published 1:16 pm Monday, December 27, 2021

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

GATLINBURG, Tenn. – Competing in the Smoky Mountain Classic in Gatlinburg, Tennessee Dec. 20-22, the Thompson Warriors didn’t back down against three out-of-state opponents.

The Warriors, playing at Gatlinburg-Pittman High School and Rocky Top Sports World, won their first two games of the tournament against Dalton (Georgia) and Johnson Central (Kentucky) to earn a spot in the championship game.

Ultimately, they ended up losing to the Lebanon (Tennessee) Blue Devils—a one-loss team from just outside Nashville—in the championship game.

It marked an impressive response from Thompson, who lost four in a row ahead of the tournament by 14 points or less.

In the opening game of the tournament against Dalton, the Warriors were in a tight battle up to a 10-10 tie.

That, however, is when they put together their first big scoring spurt of the game.

A Tre Adolphus 3-pointer followed by a steal and fast-break layup helped kick-start a 15-6 run that saw the Warriors jump in front 25-16 following a Jay Green 3-pointer.

Dalton trimmed the deficit back down to five points only to have Adolphus hit another shot from beyond the arc with 1:30 left in the opening half.

Then, Adolphus ended his strong half with another steal that led to him dishing off for a layup in the final five seconds of the half for a 32-23 lead at the break.

Dalton started the second half on a 5-0 run to again cut the deficit back to five points, but Masiah Robinson hit another big 3-pointer for the Warriors to halt the run.

From there, the Warriors used defense and steals to lead to more fast-break opportunities down the stretch, as they held at least a six-point advantage the majority of the second half en route to a 56-46 win.

Thompson had 19 steals compared to eight of Dalton, which was the ultimate difference in the game.

In the second game, Thompson was forced to overcome an early deficit against Johnson Central. Despite an opening 3-pointer from Carson Pringle, the Warriors fell into a 9-5 whole.

That carried into the second quarter, as the deficit grew to five points at 17-12.

Adolphus, however, came through with more clutch play when he hit a 3-pointer to make it a two-point game. That seemed to be the shot the Warriors needed, as Justin Pegues followed suit with a 3-pointer of his own to make it 19-15.

That led to a Carson Pringle steal and layup to give Thompson the lead, as the Warriors then carried the shift in momentum into the second half, eventually grabbing a 27-24 advantage.

That, however, was just the start of a special run. From there, the Warriors put together an 11-2 run capped off by another 3-pointer from Pegues to take a 38-26 lead late in the third quarter.

Another 3-pointer from Robinson as the buzzer sounded made it 43-30 going to the final quarter, which was all the cushion needed for Thompson to finish off a 59-46 victory.

The Warriors again had double-digit steals with 11 compared to six from Johnson Christian. The biggest key, however, was the 3-point shooting percentage of 62 percent and a field goal percentage of 64 percent after shooting 25 percent or less in the opening game.

In the championship game, Thompson was again forced to play from behind after an early 7-0 deficit put them in a hole.

Lebanon, however, never did let off the throttle, leading by 20 or more throughout the game en route to a 69-42 win against the Warriors.