Morrisville-Eaton’s Matt Roher (1) goes nose to nose with Sauquoit’s Rob Slivinski during early action.
Jeff Pexton-MHTS/PGI Photo
Will Thomas, Section III’s leading scorer this season and the Morrisville-Eaton Warriors rolled into Sauquoit tonight for a key CSC-III boy’s basketball game.
Sauquoit Valley was looking for a little payback for the 61-50 loss at Morrisville-Eaton back on 12/18. Morrisville on the other hand was hoping to stay within one game of first place Waterville in the league championship chase.
Thomas, who entered tonight’s game having scored 416 points and averaging 32 per game, scored 23 of his 31 points in the second half this evening to lead the Warriors to a 56-51 road win over a very tough Indians squad.
Thomas’ effort tonight leaves him just 10 points shy of 2,000 for his fabulous high school career.
The first quarter of this contest saw Sauquoit head coach Doug Jones employ a strict policy of double and triple teaming M-E’s Thomas with his big guys, Collin Jackson and Kyle Jones.
That strategy worked to perfect in the first quarter as Jackson and Jones smothered Thomas’ efforts down low, forcing him into off-balance shots trip after trip down the court.
Morrisville proved in the first period that they are more than just one star player, as guard Matthew Roher picked up the slack and scored 6 points in the first eight minutes to lead M-E to a 12-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Thomas was just 2 for his first 9 shots from the field during the early going tonight.
Sauquoit’s Collin Jackson accounted for 4 of Sauquoit’s 7 first quarter points, but it was the defense by the 6’3″ senior that kept the Indians close early on.
The second quarter flowed pretty much the same way the first quarter did, with Sauquoit keeping up the defensive pressure on Thomas and limiting the prolific scorer to just 4 points in the second frame.
Sauquoit’s “D” created multiple turnovers but had great difficulty getting shots to fall in the offensive end. The Indians managed just 9 points in the second quarter, against 11 from Morrisville-Eaton and the visiting Warriors took a 23-16 lead into the intermission.
During the intermission, My Hometown Sports – ESPN Radio 99.1 FM caught up with Sauquoit Valley head coach Doug Jones, who said that he was very happy with the way his big fellas stuck to Will Thomas like glue in the first sixteen minutes, but that effort would be all for naught if his team didn’t start finishing better in the offensive end. Coach Jones said that he and his staff would stress to his team the need to get better shots in the second half.
During the opening moments of the third quarter, Morrisville-Eaton head coach Tom Cooney was kind enough to speak with My Hometown Sports – ESPN Radio right from the bench, as he shouted out offensive plays to his starters.
Coach Cooney praised his super senior (Thomas) for his relentless effort in the first half and that while 8 points may have been below his season average, the defensive rebounding Thomas was doing was a huge reason that the Warriors were on top at the half.
The speedy tandem of Matt Roher and Thomas heated up in the third quarter, combining for 16 points, while Alec Diablo knocked down 5 of his own to pace Morrisville-Eaton to a 42-36 lead after three periods.
Sauquoit Valley’s Brady Murphy scored 7 points for his Indians in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter of this one was one of the more entertaining basketball battles we have seen all season, with the crowds of both schools taking turns with ooh’s and aah’s.
The Indians erased the six point deficit with a high pressure defense and key baskets in transition. The comeback was capped when senior swingman Rob Slivinski hit a long three pointer to pull the home club to within 52-51 with just 23.8 seconds remaining in regulation time.
Sauquoit fouled right away on M-E’s ensuing possession, sending Matt Roher to the line and the smooth shooter hit both free throws to give the Warriors a 54-51 lead with 18 seconds to play.
Sauquoit was unable to connect on their next possession and Will Thomas hit two free throws in the waning moments to send Morrisville-Eaton home with the big 56-51 victory.
After the game, Will Thomas, who received the Monster Energy Drink Player of the Game Award for his 31 points and huge rebounding efforts, told ESPN Radio 99.1 FM – My Hometown Sports that as he closes in on the 2,000 point mark, he just wanted to say thank you to all of his coaches throughout his career and to all of the family and friends along the way that have helped and influenced him.
With the win, Morrisville-Eaton improves to (10-4) overall (7-1) in the CSC-III, just one game behind first place Waterville at (8-0). Those two teams meet one more time this season, this Friday night in Morrisville.
Sauquoit Valley dropped to (7-7) overall, (3-5) in the league.
Sauquoit’s Brady Murphy and Collin Jackson scored 15 points each to lead the Indians. Matt Roher finished with 18 points for the Warriors.
Morrisville-Eaton 56 Sauquoit Valley 51
1 2 3 4 Total
Morrisville – Eaton 12 11 19 14 56
Sauquoit Valley 7 9 20 15 51
MHTS Scoring Summary:
Brady Murphy 15
Ethan Harris 2