SPARTA, Ga. - An undefeated basketball season came to an end for the Thomson Middle School Bulldogs in Sparta last Saturday, as the Hancock Central Bulldogs defeated them 44-37 to win the 2009 Super 10 Basketball League Championship.
It had been nearly a decade since the Hancock Central Bulldogs had won the title.
"The last time we won the championship was when I was in the eighth grade," said Cordero Foster, now the head basketball coach at Hancock Central Middle School. "It feels great to have won it all, again."
Hancock Central's only loss this season came at the hands of Washington County by a score of 58-54. Both the Bulldogs and Thomson end their basketball seasons with identical 11-1 overall records.
First-year Thomson Head Coach Shane McCook said he was disappointed in the outcome of the game."I'm disappointed that we didn't win the championship," lamented Coach McCook, whose Bulldogs had managed to win 11 games in a row before the loss in the title game. "We missed a lot of layup shots and free-throws. We shouldn't have missed those kinds of shots."
Another factor in the game turned out to be the aggressive defensive play on the part of the Hancock Central Bulldogs.
"They pressed us the whole game," Coach McCook said.
Fouls were another problem for the Thomson team, who committed a total of 23 as compared to Hancock Central who finished the game with 12 fouls. Thomson made just 8-of-16 free-throws, while Hancock Central managed to hit just 13-of-37 free shots.
"What does that tell you?" asked Coach McCook. "We got called for a lot of fouls in that game."
At the end of the first period, Hancock Central held a 16-11 lead. In the second period with 3:29 left in the first half, Hancock Central built up a 10-point lead, 21-11 before Thomson's William Bussey, hit a field goal to cut the lead back to eight.
Bussey, J. Beard and T. J. Battle continued to do what they could, offensively. And as a result, they kept Thomson in the game through the first half. Bussey hit a big three-point basket with just 11 seconds remaining before halftime that cut Hancock's lead to 21-18.
Thomson's Freddie Neal, who played a super game on both sides of the basketball and had a number of rebounds, also blocked several attempted shots by Hancock players.
Going into the fourth period, Thomson trailed by eight, 32-24. On two different occasions, Thomson managed to cut Hancock's lead to just six. But each time they got closer, Hancock found a way to surge further ahead.
Bussey led all Thomson scorers with 12 points. He was followed by Neal with 10, K. McNair, 5, J. Beard, 5, C. Garnett, 4 and S. Hart, 1 point, respectively.
Hancock Central was led by Deonta Franklin, an eighth grader, who scored 20 points and caused defensive havoc against the Thomson team the entire game.