THOMASVILLE — The Thomas County Central boys and girls basketball teams traveled just a few minutes down the road on Thursday night to face cross town rival Thomasville High School. This marked the first of two meetings between the Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs on the hardwood and the stands were filled to the brim with eager supporters.
The Lady Jackets started off the night in dominant fashion as their stellar defense and fast break offense sent them roaring past the Lady Bulldogs. Marcy Pearson got the scoring started for Central with a third chance three and the Lady Jackets showed no signs of stopping. They dominated the offensive boards and forced several turnovers. The Lady Jackets were quick up the floor allowing them to take advantage of those turnovers and as the horn sounded on the first frame, Central led by an astounding 20-7.
The scoring slowed for both teams as the second quarter got underway. Central won the quarter 7-3, but their defense was the story. Central swarmed Thomasville ball handlers, forcing several turnovers in the opening minutes of the quarter and took a 27-10 lead into halftime.
Thomasville came out of the break looking better, though it was too late for a rally. The defense began to close in on shooters and stopped allowing so many open shots, which hurt them badly in the first quarter. The Bulldog offense looked better as well, with crisp passing that led to open shots in the paint.
The second half was certainly a more even contest, but it was too little too late as Central continued to build on their lead. As the horn sounded the Lady Jackets remained perfect on the season with a big 59-32 win over Thomasville.
}The boys game was far different and ended up being one of the most intense back and fourth contests fans will see all year. The Central defense looked to be shutting down Thomasville much like the girls did. Central quickly jumped up to a 5-0 lead on a three by Chris Williams, but the Bulldogs responded. After three scoreless minutes, junior Xavier Burkes hit back-to-back threes to give Thomasville the 6-5 lead. The Bulldog shooters were late to the party but began to cook as Messiah Wilson and Jordan Mitchell both drained threes to bring the crowd to their feet. Central responded with a three by Decameron Duncan to cut the lead to one and at the end of a raucous first quarter, Thomasville led 15-14.
It was another back and forth quarter for the Yellow Jackets and the Bulldogs. Monte Colvin opened the quarter with a three for Thomasville. Central responded as big man Mantrel Mosley streaked down the floor and threw down a vicious one handed jam. Thomasville continued to hit shots, but it was the Yellow Jacket shooters turn to get hot.
Williams knocked down a pair of threes while Braden Cray drained one of his own to tie the game at 26. With just ten seconds to go in the half, Yellow Jacket Colby Millinax went up and was fouled, draining the basket for one. He sank the free throw and sent Central into the locker room up by one.
As the second half got underway, both defenses stepped up as neither team could get a clean look at the basket. The offense had calmed down, but Thomasville’s Wilson had not. He got the scoring going for the Bulldogs with a fade away jumper and quickly followed that up with a three. A break away layup for Wilson brought the Thomasville crowd to their feet as he ran down the court slapping his chest.
“That’s typical Messiah. He’s our energy. He plays with so much passion so, that’s typical of him,” said Thomasville head coach Kiel Angry. “I think, from last year to this year, it’s amazing to see how much he has grown to make the right decisions and taking the right shot at the right time. For him to just keep everybody energized the way he does, he plays with so much passion.”
Heading into the final frame, the Bulldogs trailed by just two. Thomasville’s defense turned up the heat and put pressure on the Central offense as the Bulldogs took a one point lead. Thomasville began to pull away until Central’s Mullinax hit a three to bring the score back within one.
However, Wilson came in clutch with a huge steal and timeout call with under three minutes left in the game and Thomasville up by two. The crowd was going crazy as Central stole the ball and had several chances in the final 30 second but couldn’t hit from beyond the arc.
Clutch free throws from Burkes and a taken charge by Keymon Jefferson iced the game for Thomasville and the Bulldogs took a well earned 53-46 victory.
The Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets will meet again on December 12 at Thomas County Central beginning with the girls at 6:00 p.m.