After a strong start, the Thomson Bulldogs lost to the Cross Creek Razorbacks 67-47 in the Class AAA-Region Championship Friday night at Cross Creek.
The second place finish in the region tourney meant Thomson would be at home in the first round of the state playoffs against the Pierce County Bears, the third-seeded team from Region 1.
Thomson advanced to the championship game by defeating Burke County 73-42, and disposing of Hephzibah 88-65.
The Dogs had lost to the Razorbacks, who played in last year’s state championship, twice before and knew that Cross Creek’s advantage in height and experience would pose challenges.
“We came out like we wanted to, with good defense, pushing the ball into open court and making shots,” said Michael Thomas, THS head coach.
With a 19-12 lead, Thomson went into the second quarter and fell on hard times.
“We got stagnant on offense and that was a big part of why out scoring went from 19 in the first period to 9 points in the second period,” said Thomas. “It wasn’t so much what Cross Creek did as it was us getting stagnant. We just didn’t have enough experience to be able to attack their defense.”
The problems continued and THS wasn’t able to close the gap.
“Not taking a thing away from Cross Creek,” said Thomas. “They are a legitimate state contender with good height, good guards across the front. They returned a lot of players and this loss wasn’t to a fluke.”
Lavonta Ivery led Thomson with 14 points.
The Bears, from Blackshear, are a tough team with an 11-9 record that Thomas said finished the regular season as number two in the region, but finished the tournament as number three.
Pierce defeated 4-14 Tattnall County 73-63 in the consolation game.
“They have good guards who handle the ball well and are athletic,” Thomas said. “They are about our size in height – 6-2 to 6-3.”
The coach said the Bears have a lot of football players that came over from the football team that won the state championship this year.
“They are a tough-minded group with a running back as a guard and the two forwards being the quarterback and wide receiver,” said Thomas. “I have only seen them on film, and it’s hard to translate what that will mean in person. All indications are that they are good. Any team that gets to the playoffs is usually worthy.”
Thomas said Thomson, 12-6 overall, has to adjust to the Bears’ physicality.
“We’ve got to match and surpass their physical ability and play a complete game the whole way,” Thomas said.
The winner of Wednesday’s game will play the winner of the SE Bulloch-Peach County game.
Due to extenuating circumstances (from the high transmission indicators provided by the Georgia Department of Public Health) related to Covid-19, all THS athletic contests at the school will be limited to parents/guardians only.