No. 1 Thompson uses fast feet, slow minds and a lot of athleticism to beat No. 2 Rugby
Thompson is now 16-1, while Rugby falls to 15-2.
THOMPSON – “Fast feet, slow minds.”
That’s the mantra – a mission statement, if you will – of the Thompson High School girls basketball team. But in the biggest game of the year so far, the Tommies perhaps took just a few minutes to remember that approach.
In a matchup featuring the state’s top two teams in Class B, top-ranked Thompson overcame a slow offensive start, then used a strong defense and pure athleticism to pull away in the second half to beat No. 2 Rugby 55-45 Friday.
“We want to play fast, but we have to have fast feet, slow minds. That’s kind of what we preach,” Thompson senior guard Olivia Dick said. “They came out and pressured us really hard. We took a deep breath and stepped back and just calmed down and played our game. We started to play together again.”
As the Tommies worked to find consistency, their defense kept them in the game. And the offensive effort of a freshman reserve certainly didn't hurt.
Rugby opened the scoring not long after tipoff when Peyton Hauck scored on a driving shot in the lane. Neither team scored over the next four minutes.
Thompson’s first basket came at the 3:12 mark when freshman Addison Sage scored on a driving layup. She also hit a 12-footer with 1:25 to play in the quarter and drained a 3-pointer from the corner with just 12 seconds left to give Thompson a 9-6 lead.
Aside from Sage’s baskets, Thompson's athletes – led by Dick – eventually turned the momentum toward the Tommies. They never relinquished it.
Just before the end of the first quarter, Dick blocked a shot and drove the length of the court, dishing to Sage for her basket from the corner. And during a two-minute span midway into the second quarter, Dick had two notable assists – one of them leading to a layup by Kya Hurst that put Thompson up 23-19. At the same time, Thompson was getting baskets from Hurst, Clara Stevens, Sage and Sydney Schwabe to pull away.
The Tommies were up 27-22 at halftime. Dick had another run of notable passes that led to baskets late in the third quarter. By then, Thompson generally held seven- to 10-point leads and, essentially, had the game in hand.
“What we mean when we say (fast feet, slow minds) is we want them getting up that floor, both on the offensive and defensive side – relentless defense and fast on the offensive side,” Thompson coach Jason Brend said. “But at the same time, when an opponent's defense is putting defense on us, we don’t want to panic. We need to keep composure to give ourselves good possessions.”
The Tommies, Brend said, “came out pretty ramped up.”
“When you play with RPMs that high, you sometimes force the issue a little bit before you need to,” he said. “We knew (Rugby is) a great basketball team and that we might need to be more selective on the offensive side, especially early on. That was maybe the reason we came out a little flat.”
Schwabe had 14 points for Thompson, nine of which came during a span of about five minutes during a pivotal third-quarter stretch that saw the Tommies take a 40-30 lead. Sage had 13 points, Stevens 12 and Hurst seven.
For Rugby, Kendyl Hager had 15 points and Mykell Heidlebaugh had 13.
Beyond points, individual statistics – rebounds, assists, steals – were not available immediately after the game, since both teams tally them later, via videotape.
Thompson is now 16-1, while Rugby is 15-2.
Rugby coach Jen Brossart said the Panthers tried “a few different defenses – something that we’re looking to maybe in the future.” Mostly, she said, her squad didn’t react well.
“Thompson has a lot of great shooters, so we wanted to keep them a little off-balance,” she said. “But they came to play today and shot the ball very well. The transition was very good for them and I thought our girls were just a step slow.”