Thompson defeats Montevallo on Shooting 2 Change night for second win in two days

Published 12:45 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2024

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

The Thompson Warriors carried on a longstanding tradition of supporting autism acceptance with their annual Shooting 2 Change night on Tuesday, Jan. 30 at Warrior Arena, and they capped it off with a 60-44 win over the Montevallo Bulldogs just 24 hours after beating the Helena Huskies on the road 50-42.

The annual event began under former Thompson varsity boys basketball coach Dru Powell, and while Powell has since left to coach at Saraland, it has continued under current coach DJ Black.

Through their partnership with Project Outreach, the Warriors varsity boys and girls basketball teams got to play games with kids in the auxiliary gym before the kids got to run out at warmups and play on the Warrior Arena court at halftime of the varsity girls game. They also collected food donations for special needs students at Alabaster City Schools.

“It was pretty fun, but it was a good group, good energy,” Black said. “It was a lot of fun and a great success last night.”

The evening has special meaning for Black and Thompson’s varsity boys team because of team manager Peyton Grillo, who was diagnosed with autism and is beloved by his teammates and classmates.

Grillo’s hope is that the event not only sparks autism awareness, but autism acceptance, a desire that Black echoes.

“He’s brought a ton of not just awareness, and his big thing is, which I kind of piggyback, is acceptance, because he’s like, ‘everybody’s aware of it now, but it’s time to accept autism, and it’s OK to be different,’” Black said. “He teaches our guys, teaches our program, teaches our school that just because you might be a little bit different doesn’t mean you are and everybody has their own unique way of doing things. So, he’s really been a light to our program and this event just brings more light to it.”

On the court, the Warriors got off to a strong start offensively, scoring 19 points to kick off the night.

Thompson also held strong on the other end of the floor, keeping their county rival Montevallo to just nine points in the opening quarter.

That gave the Warriors a 10-point lead that they carried into the second quarter.

The double-digit cushion came in handy in the next two quarters as the Bulldogs fought back and forced a more even fight.

Montevallo kept Thompson’s hot hands quieter in the second quarter and allowed 11 points versus the 19 the Warriors scored in the first.

While the Bulldogs put up 11 points of their own on the offensive end, Thompson’s defense limited the damage to keep the 10-point advantage going into halftime.

Despite trailing 30-20 at the start of the third, Montevallo actually got the better of the Warriors after the teams emerged from the locker room and won the third quarter.

The Bulldogs prevailed in a highly defensive third period by a score of 9-8, cutting the deficit to nine points as the final eight minutes of play began.

However, Thompson’s offense reawakened and overcame the Montevallo pressure to put up its best scoring effort of the game.

The Warriors dropped 22 points in the fourth quarter, which helped build out their lead and pull away for the win after the Bulldogs scored 15 points in response.

The fourth-quarter rally gave Thompson the 16-point win on a special night for the program.

Colben Landrew had another standout night with 23 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Daeshaun Morrissette also got into double figures with 14 points off 5-7 shooting.

Jay Green had six points and three assists and Riley Bryant recorded five points and three assists in the win.

For Montevallo, Ja’Von Chism impressed with a game-high 23 points and six rebounds, Javon Rogers had 11 points and four rebounds and Malachi Cartwell scored five points.

The win over Montevallo came just a day after the Warriors’ second win of the season over another county rival, the Helena Huskies, this time on the road at Helena High School.

Helena came out of the gate as the better of the two sides, scoring 10 points on offense while holding Thompson to just four points in the first quarter.

The Warriors mounted their response in the second with a 14-point quarter as they rallied back to tie up the ballgame at 24 going into halftime.

In the third quarter, both teams found success scoring the ball, but it was the Huskies that got the better of the visiting Warriors.

Helena outscored Thompson 16-13 to take a three-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Just like they did the next night against Montevallo, the Warriors saved their best for last and scored 19 points in the final period.

Thompson also held the Huskies to just five points in the fourth quarter, with three of those coming on a last-second three-pointer by Helena’s Josh Williams after the Warriors had already secured the road victory.

Landrew led the team with 14 points and nine rebounds to finish just shy of a double-double while Green had nine points and three rebounds. Morrissette earned seven points and three rebounds.

Jared Smith scored six points and secured five rebounds, and Bryant had five points in the win.

As for Helena, Williams scored a game-high 16 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. Joseph King and Drew Davis had seven points apiece while Davis added five rebounds to his account for the night. Ian Johnigan had five points and Denton McDonald secured six rebounds.

The Warriors will finish out the regular season with their final home game of the year against Pleasant Grove on Thursday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m.