Another sign that the Thunder Mountain High School boy’s basketball team is reaching a more mature level of play came with 1:56 remaining in the first quarter on Tuesday evening in the TMHS gym.
Leading the Wasilla Warriors 10-4, point guard Josh Tupou corralled a loose ball and power dribbled up court in a one-on-two break. Two weeks ago Tupou would have crashed to the rim with a possibility of being whistled for an offensive charge more likely than a score.
The new Tupou saw the numbers, backed the ball out, and hit a trailing Ben Jahn for two points and a 12-4 lead at the quarter’s end.
“Our coach has helped us a lot to be more disciplined and be more patient on offense,” Tupou said. “I kind of saw that opportunity but I just backed it out and looked for a trailer. We came out a little flat in the third period and that is partly my fault as a leader on the floor.”
The Falcons (10-5 overall, 3-1 Southeast Conference) dominated the first half of their 39-27 win over the Warriors (5-11, 2-3 Northern Lights Conference) .
Wasilla’s Alex Baham scored the first, and only, basket for the Warriors to start the second period.
Thunder Mountain went on a 17-0 run that featured Sam Jahn hitting six of his game-high 15 points and Matt Seymour getting seven of his 11 game points. In between were back-to-back buckets by Vili and J. Tupou out of a defensive press that took the Falcons into the break with a 29-10 advantage.
The Falcons would only score 10 points in the second half.
“We lost our energy,” TMHS coach John Blasco said. “We had no fluid offense. It was frustrating because it felt like we were just hanging on to a win. Instead of winning the game we were just hanging on.”
S. Jahn made three straight trips to the free-throw line before TMHS gathered their first point of the second half.
B. Jahn hit inside and Seymour tallied a triple to finish the quarter. Wasilla doubled the Falcons with 12 points and had cut the lead to 13 starting the final period, 35-22.
The Warriors got two quick baskets, one inside the arch from Dustin Cook and one outside by Cameron Brown, that cut the lead to eight and forced the Falcons to call a time out with 5:22 remaining.
“They are understanding when to take the fast break and when to back it out,” Blasco said. “We have talked a lot about that. Early on in the year, and you saw it here tonight where we got several charge calls because we just put our head down and go, but you have to understand when to bring the ball out and utilized the clock. In the second half we did back it out and tried to get an offense going, unfortunately we had no offense. It was just a frustrating second half.”
S. Jahn powered inside to draw four straight fouls on the Warriors and scored the only four points for the Falcons down the stretch. TMHS relied on their defense to hold Wasilla scoreless the final five minutes of play.
B. Jahn added five points for the Falcons, J. Tupou and V. Tupou four apiece to round out the scoring. TMHS hit 7-15 at the charity stripe, Wasilla went 4-8. Cook led the Warriors with nine points, Brown eight, Stone Krueger four, Baham and Emillio Carney three apiece.
The Falcons next host the Lathrop Malemutes on Thursday at 7 p.m. The TMHS JV will play Hoop Time at 5:15 p.m.