“It was a challenging ball game,” Crawford said. “We jumped out on them early. I think we started settling for entirely too many outside jump shots. I think this ball team is coming together at the right time, but we just have a few things that we need to work out. I think we are starting to play very good. I am real excited about the way we starting to play. We played an outstanding Thompson team tonight that’s 18-5. Coach (Josh) Golden called and wanted to play, so I called Coach Copeland and Mr. Hubbard and we thought it was a great opportunity to give our kids Senior Night tonight. I am excited about where we are heading and the way our kids are starting to play.”
Thompson trailed by double digits for the entire first half and much of the third quarter before making it a game in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Warriors held Sylacauga to nine points in the third quarter, which allowed them to trim a double digit deficit to six points, 38-32 going into the fourth quarter. Thompson opened the final period on a 6-0 run to tie the game. Kelsea Bivins’ putback cut the lead down to 38-34. Indiah Cohill hit a layup to cut the deficit to 38-36 with 7:24 left in the game. Kiarra Pettway led Thompson with 20 points, including a shot to tie the game at 38-38 with 6:45 left in the game.
The McDonald’s All-American then took over the game for Sylacauga. Thomas scored on a layup off the assist of Tierra Dark to give the Lady Aggies a 40-38 lead with 6:32 left in the game.
Janese Richardson tied the game up at 40-40 on layup. Thomas gave the Lady Aggies a 43-42 lead, but that was short lived as Pettway drained a 3–pointer to give the Lady Warriors their first lead of the game 45-42 with 4:22 left in the game.
Thomas answered back as she drove down the lane and hit a difficult shot fading to her left to tie the game at 45-45. Taniya Garrett’s putback gave Sylacauga a 47-45 lead.
Thompson had the height and the length advantage and it showed up on the offensive glass as Bivins pulled down a missed shot and put it back in to tie the game back up at 47-47.
From that point on Sylacauga went on a 12-2 run to close the game. Thomas scored eight points during the run. She got the run started with a pair of free throws. The Lady Aggies turned to their press defense late in the game, which forced Thompson to turn the ball over. Thomas chaptalized off Thompson’s miscue as she took it in for a layup to increase their lead to 51-47.
Richardson hit a bank shot for Thompson to cut the lead back down to 51-49 with 2:30 left in the game.
The reigning Class 5A Player of the Year then found her stroke as she connected on a short jumper to increase their lead to 53-49.
Tierra Dark scored four of her 14 points late in the fourth quarter which helped the Lady Aggies increase their lead to 57-47.
In final seconds of the game, Kiara Pope threw a lob to Thomas, who finished it with a layup as time expired.
“She really stepped up,” Crawford said of Thomas’ play in the fourth quarter. “She really took over on the post. I really thought that she could have move, but she stepped up when she needed to in the fourth quarter and she put us on her back. She has this little quote that she is saying now, ‘Chasing rings’, so she every day we are chasing that ring, we are chasing that area title one at a time.”
Sylacauga got off to a fast start to open the game. The Lady Aggies jumped out a 12-2 run to open the game and took a 21-9 lead going into the second quarter. Thomas scored 13 points in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Lady Aggies only scored eight points, but managed to keep a 10 point lead, 29-19 going into halftime.
Thompson head coach Josh Golden is very familiar with the Lady Aggies basketball program. Golden spent two years as the head basketball coach at Sylacauga before leaving for Thompson last summer. During his tenure at Sylacauga, he led the 2011-2012 team to the Final Four in Birmingham.
Golden believes missing days of practice and games to the inclement weather this past week affected the play of both teams.
“It is a unique situation, “Golden said. “Obviously the game wasn’t scheduled. I think the weather affected us as well as Sylacauga, so both teams were a little rustier than you would normally see. I thought we got ourselves in a big whole early. I think at one point in the first quarter it was 21-7. In the second and third quarter we held them to eight and nine points. I think we really defended well in the second, third and most of the fourth quarter. I think it was tied with three minutes to go and we got frustrated late and gave up some easy ones. It was a pretty even game even though we put ourselves in a big whole early. I was proud of us for battling back when you get down 14 to a good team like Sylacauga and battle back to tie it in the fourth. I was proud of that; we just have to get off to a little better start.”