The Thomson basketball season came to an end much as the football season did -- a region championship banner to add to the rafters and a state playoff game against a fourth seeded opponent.
And just as the football team ended its season in the opening round of the playoffs, the basketball team's run toward a state title fell short Saturday night. The Bulldogs lost to the Crisp County Cougars at the Dog House, 50-46.
Thomson's Dan Ivey battles for the ball.
"I think they did a fantastic job," Thomson Coach Michael Thomas said of his team. "They did everything I asked them to do. It's probably one of the smartest teams I've ever coached. ...That's why I just wish I could have gotten them ready because they would have been able to do whatever I asked them to do."
Thomson (21-7) struggled with shooting all night, but Coach Thomas said his team played defense just like they have all season -- tough. The Bulldogs held Crisp County guard Lewis Clinch to 20 points, even though the future Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket averaged 32 points per game during the regular season.
Despite the offensive woes, the usual suspects provided the scoring for Thomson. Terry Hill poured in 18 points while James Farmer had 12.
After jumping out to an early 6-point lead, the Bulldogs didn't score in the last four minutes of the first quarter, and the game was knotted at 10 going into the second. Crisp County (18-8) went on a 17-9 run in the second quarter to build a 27-19 lead at the half.
Thomson got within two midway through the third quarter, but Crisp built its lead back up to nine with under 3 minutes left in the third. The Cougars took a 6-point lead into the final frame.
With 0:49 remaining in the game, the Bulldogs were still down by six, 48-42. Thomson's Dan Ivey missed two free throws in the final minute, and after fouling the Cougars to attempt a comeback, Crisp went 2-4 from the line in the final seconds to hold on for the win.
This was the first state playoff game played at Thomson, but according to Coach Thomas, the home court advantage didn't help the Bulldogs against a quality opponent like Crisp County.
"Home didn't have a whole lot to do with it," he said. "When you get to the state playoffs, a loss is always possible."
Despite the early exit from the post-season, Thomson came away with its first region championship since 1993. That was one of the positives for the players and coaching staff.
"It isn't going to be sweet until you get the no. 1 goal," Ivey said. "But you know, we had a pretty good season to accomplish the region."
The Bulldogs will lose much of this year's team to graduation. Only five players will return to next year's squad.