Thompson tops Vestavia Hills in overtime to return to regionals
Published 11:13 am Wednesday, February 7, 2024
By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor
HOOVER – Each year, the Thompson Warriors’ goal has been to get out of Class 7A, Area 5, which has proven to be one of the most competitive and brutal areas in the state year-in and year-out.
This year, they broke through the glass ceiling, even if it took just a little bit more effort to do so.
The Warriors prevailed in an overtime battle with the Vestavia Hills Rebels 58-50 in the area semifinals on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at Hoover High School.
For Thompson, it will be the first time back in regionals since 2022, and it will square off against its biggest rival Hoover on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. for the area championship.
To accomplish that first though, the Warriors had to do something else that hadn’t been done: defeat Vestavia Hills in 2024.
After losing to the Rebels on the road 58-45 on Jan. 11 and by a tighter 56-52 margin at home on Jan. 26, Thompson sought revenge in its third meeting with Vestavia on a neutral site.
Both teams came out with strong first quarters and were tightly matched as they sought to gain the upper hand in the opening period.
At the end of the quarter, Vestavia had a slight 14-12 lead to put itself just a basket clear of the Warriors.
However, Thompson would overcome that one basket difference and more in a dominant second quarter.
The Warriors defense locked down the Rebels’ hot shooters in the second, limiting Vestavia’s offense to just four additional points before halftime.
Thompson used another 12-point quarter to grab hold of the lead and take a 24-18 advantage into the halftime break.
The Rebels started chipping away at that lead in the third quarter. They recovered on offense to score 13 points during the third, and on the other end of the floor, they had an improved defensive effort by allowing nine points.
That cut the Warriors lead to just two points going into the final eight minutes of play.
The teams were neck-and-neck down the stretch in an offensive quarter similar to the opening period, and they combined for 24 points in the fourth quarter.
In the end, the Rebels outscored the Warriors by two in the fourth, and four quarters of basketball would not be enough to separate the area foes.
With the season on the line in overtime, Thompson took a page out of its solid second quarter to perform well on both ends of the court in the extra period.
The Warriors kept Vestavia to just six points in overtime, and combined with their 14 points on the offensive end of the floor, led to the eight-point win and a coveted spot in the Sweet 16.
Much like many of Thompson’s late season games, Colben Landrew was a difference maker for the Warriors. He ended the night with a double-double thanks to his 16 points and 11 rebounds. The sophomore standout also shot 5-8 from three-point range and had five steals.
Jay Green dropped 15 points and four assists, including an 8-12 night from the free throw line, and Daeshaun Morrisette joined both Landrew and Green in double-figures with 10 points. Cam Pritchett had five points and seven rebounds in the win.