WRENS, Ga. - This past Saturday was a special day in the life of Shane McCook. First, it was his 11th wedding anniversary with wife, Melissa, and later his Thomson Middle School Bulldogs boys' basketball team ended their regular season with a perfect 10-0 record.
"I've got guys who listen and do what we ask of them," said the jubilant first year Thomson Middle head coach after his Bulldogs defeated the Colts 37-36 to go undefeated during regular season. "This really means nothing, though, if we don't win the championship. That's what we're shooting for, because that's what everybody remembers."
It marked the second time this season that the Wrens Colts had fallen to Thomson. Earlier, the Colts lost a 37-31 decision in a game played in Thomson. The two losses suffered to Thomson were Wrens' only losses.
Thomson and Wrens begin playoff action Thursday.
"It was a well-played game," remarked Wrens Head Coach Kelvin Farmer, whose assistant is his twin brother, Melvin. "But we were terrible from the free-throw line, hitting on just 2-of-19 shots. That's where we lost the game."
Thomson's T.J. Battle led the Bulldogs in scoring with 14 points. He was followed by teammates Kenne'tavious McNair with 11 and Freddie Neal with 7 points, respectively.
The Bulldogs found themselves trailing by seven points, 15-8 at the end of the first period. Quickly, Thomson fought back with a field goal and a three-point basket by Battle to cut the Colts' lead to 15-13. The Colts turned right around with two straight hoops to again lead by six with just three minutes remaining in first-half action.
With a little less than a minute to play in the second period, Thomson managed to cut Wrens' lead to 23-22. Neal followed through with an inside basket, while Battle hit another long-shot from the corner. That's the way the score remained at halftime.
About three minutes slipped by before either team could muster a score during the third period. Wrens hit a shot, making it a 25-22 game. Thomson came right back and tied the game 25-25 on a three-point shot by McNair with 2:51 left in the period.
The Bulldogs later regained the lead, 27-25 when Neal connected on a layup. McNair later hit from just outside the key to give Thomson a four-point lead going into the fourth period.
The Colts didn't lie down. Instead, they came right back down court and hit a three-pointer to make it a one-point game in favor of Thomson. Later, Wrens regained the lead, 35-33 with just 28 seconds remaining in the game. Thomson later missed a shot and ended up intentionally fouling a Wrens player. The player managed to hit only one of two free-throws, but nevertheless, it gave the Colts a three-point lead, 36-33.
Thomson's William Bussey quickly grabbed the rebound and dribbled all the way down court before hitting a driving layup shot to make it a 36-35. Jamontae Beard, who played an outstanding game, managed to intercept an inbounds pass attempt by Wrens, which gave the ball right back to the Bulldogs with just 13 seconds remaining. A Wrens player returned the favor, stealing the ball, but was called for traveling - thus Thomson got the ball back. With his team down by a mere point, Bussey hit a layup that gave the Bulldogs a 37-36 lead with only six seconds left. An attempted shot by Wrens to win the game failed with Beard rebounding for Thomson, which preserved the Bulldogs' undefeated regular season.