The Thomson High Bulldogs fell to ninth ranked Douglas Co. 88-82 in overtime in first-round action of the state AAAA basketball tournament. Friday's game, played at Jones County High School, saw the Bulldogs nearly pull off the impossible against the tall and quick Tigers.
The Bulldogs got off to a fast start by taking a 30-22 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Tigers' attempt to force a fast-paced game with a full court zone press backfired. The Bulldogs showed great poise and discipline against the press. Senior guard Bookie Reese poured in 13 points in the quarter. Terry Hill and Dantavious Lowe chipped in with a variety of baseline jumpers and scoring drives through the paint off feeds from Reese, Roberto Roberts, James Farmer and Dan Ivey.
Thomson's Terry Hill passes the ball in as Coach Michael Thomas watches.
Douglas' Junior Jennings did enough inside damage to hold serve in the second quarter and the Bulldogs went into the half with a 45-37 lead. The biggest blow to the Dogs' fortunes came when Reese picked up his third foul at the 5:05 mark of the quarter. Reese finished the half with 21 points, including five three-pointers. Lowe had 12 points at the half.
The Tigers abandoned the press at halftime and went man-to-man. This adjustment forced Thomson to work harder for their baskets, and they did not score until Farmer's driving layup at the 5:18 mark of the third quarter. Put backs by Lowe and Antwon Johnson near the end of the quarter allowed Thomson to hold a 56-51 lead with 8 minutes to go.
Jennings entered the fourth quarter with four fouls, as did Thomson's Reese. Jennings became a mannequin on defense so the Bulldogs went to work inside but had difficulty controlling Jennings on the offensive end. Douglas County forced the game's first tie at 66 with 2:09 to play. Ivey's two free throws gave the Dogs a 68-66 lead with less than a minute to go. After an exchange of baskets Cordaro Crawford's big steal with 17 seconds left apparently put the Dogs in the driver's seat with a 70-68 lead and possession of the ball. A free throw by Reese stretched the lead to 71-68, but things were just getting interesting.
In a play just outside the three-point arc, Douglas County lost control of the ball and a wild scramble ensued. The whistle blew and Reese was called for his fifth foul with 3.6 seconds left. The official determined that Douglas County was in the act of shooting and awarded them three free throws. The Tiger shooter made all three shots, tying the game at 71 and sending it to overtime.
With Thomson's Reese out, and Douglas' Jennings still surviving despite playing with four fouls, the Tigers won the overtime with a 17-11 advantage. Lowe kept the Bulldogs in it with three big offensive rebounds, but the Tigers essentially won it at the free throw line when the Dogs were forced to foul.
Reese finished the game as Thomson's leading scorer with 24 points.
Bulldog coach Michael Thomas said that his team's great effort wasn't enough.
"We played pretty well but didn't pull it out at the end and that's what counts," said Coach Thomas.
The Bulldogs finished the season 20-8, with a fourth place Region 3-AAAA tournament finish and the experience of competing in a tough state tournament game.