No. 1 Thompson takes care of Ellendale for a spot in the state semifinals
The top-seeded Thompson Tommies distributed the ball around Thursday evening to slay Ellendale’s two-headed attack of Austin Molan and Scott Wagner.
Always looking for the open man, Thompson bypassed unseeded Ellendale, 58-49, in the opening round of the Class B boys basketball state tournament at the Minot State Dome.
All seven Tommies who saw playing time ended up scoring.
“They are pretty unselfish,” Thompson head coach Brandy George said about his team. “They don’t really care who scores, as long as somebody scores. That has been our mentality and why I think we have been successful too.”
Thompson (24-1) was constantly looking to run by getting out in transition and forcing a faster tempo. Ellendale (15-11), on the other hand, was more content to run half-court sets. The Tommies got their way and were “getting their blood pumping” by running up-and-down the court more times than not.
Tied at 12-12 on a power move inside by Wagner, Thompson went on a 7-0 run to close out the first quarter with Pierce Cooper sinking a 3-pointer in the final seconds before the buzzer sounded.
The Tommies had a brief double-digit lead, 28-18, cut to 28-22 before going into the locker room at halftime.
“We struggled to get into a rhythm,” Thompson senior guard Cadyn Schwabe said. “But, in that third quarter, we got some transition buckets and started to get to the rim by attacking. That opened things up a little bit.”
A slow start to the second half for both teams eventually featured Schwabe slashing to the rim for a pair of layups. With that, Thompson had restored its 10-point lead again, 32-22.
Ellendale turned to Molan and Wagner once more to keep the game in reach.
The dynamic duo combined to score 41 out of the Cardinals’ 49 points. Ellendale didn’t even have a third player score until Hunter Thorpe made a free throw with 23.8 seconds left in the third quarter.
“Ellendale is a good team that has two guys who really score it well,” George said. “So, we knew it was going to be a tough game.”
Schwabe, who tied Molan with a game-high 23 points, added: “Molan and Wagner are good players. We tried to defend our best, but they had their big games. We were able to defend everybody else, though.”
The Tommies took a 40-31 lead into the fourth quarter.
More of Molan and Wagner cut the deficit to 40-36, but that’s as close as the Cardinals got.
A fast break dunk by Thompson senior Hayden Overby with 2:30 remaining proved to be the exclamation point, 49-38. Thompson had no problems breaking a full-court press and making free throws to wrap up a 58-49 victory.
Overby finished with 14 points, while Wagner ended up with 18 points and 13 rebounds for Ellendale.
“Obviously, this is a new experience for us,” George said as Thompson is making its first state appearance in school history. “But, some of these kids have played in football and baseball state championships. The B, however, is a different beast. Once we got here and the ball went up, they really relaxed and played. You don’t want to say it’s like any other game we have played, but in a lot of ways I think it is.”
Awaiting Thompson in the state semifinals is No. 4-seeded Bishop Ryan. That contest will be played at 8:15 p.m. this evening at the Minot State Dome.
“We aren’t done yet,” George said. “We are trying to get to that championship game. That has been their goal all year. And it doesn’t get any easier. Each and every game it gets harder because there is a target on your back.”
Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.