The Thunder Mountain High School boy’s basketball team won their sixth straight road game on Saturday night, toppling the state’s fifth-ranked Lathrop Malemutes 52-50 and staking a claim on being named in the weekly coaches poll.
Senior Vili Tupou scored a game-high 18 points to lead the Falcons including four makes from beyond the arch and the Falcons played one of their best second halves to date.
“We put up 32 points, 19 in the fourth quarter,” TMHS coach John Blasco said. “That is a good fourth quarter. It was definitely good second half for us. Vili was definitely in the zone tonight. It was a huge game out of him tonight.”
Tupou’s seven third-quarter points kept the Falcons in the thick of the action against an athletic Lathrop team. The Falcons trailed 16-13 starting the second quarter and 29-20 at the half.
“There primary strengths were transition offense and second chance points,” Blasco said. “We switched up our defense and tried to reduce their transitions.” Lathrop had topped TMHS 71-46 in Juneau in early February and beat Juneau-Douglas 69-57 and 47-38.
Starting the fourth quarter down 42-33 the Falcons were aggressive across the roster.
“That was a key difference,” Blasco said. “Everybody contributed that played. It was a very nice comeback win and nice to end the trip four and no.”
Senior Sam Jahn and Ben Jahn scored 11 points each, sophomore Jacob Calloway added six, senior Josh Tupou four and junior Matt Seymour two. TMHS hit 6-14 at the charity stripe, Lathrop went 4-10. Tremon Washington led the Malemutes with 16 points, Gabriel Cunningham 14, Kyle Carlson 10, Tevin Gladden five, Cole Berner three and Everett Green two.
“We talked about getting a little pay back,” Blasco said. “They beat us a couple years ago pretty bad and they beat us at home pretty bad, we just wanted to make sure we slowed the game down and kept it close to give ourselves a chance to win at the end.”
The Falcons improve to 16-6 overall (5-1 southeast conference) and will host JDHS for senior night this coming weekend.
“This coming weekend will be very important,” Blasco said. “It will decide who wins the regular season conference, and the seniors have their moment in front of the home crowd.”
On Friday the Falcons beat the West Valley Wolfpack 70-63
“It was obviously higher points than we are normally putting up,” John Blasco said. “But they are a fast paced team.”
Four Falcons scored in double figures and TMHS scored in double digits each quarter.
S. Jahn led with 23 points, B. Jahn added 13, and V. Tupou and Calloway added 10 points apiece.
“Our quarter scoring has really felt more consistent,” Blasco said. “We have been putting up 13-plus points a quarter it feels like. I think we are figuring ourselves out more. Our assists ratio is up and we focused on 15-feet and in tonight.”
The Falcons led 17-13 starting the second quarter and 38-27 at the half.
Seymour played limited minutes as he continues to rehab an injury but combined with Grussendorf to keep the West Valley defense honest in the third quarter with makes from beyond the three-point line. Larenzo Graham hit a game-high 25 points for the Wolfpack.
“He was not in my scouting report,” Blasco said. “They wanted to run us. Every inbounds they tried to push it so we went to a full court zone to slow the game done as best we could. They are athletic and quick and they could get penetration.”
Seymour and Grussendorf added five points apiece, Johnson and Uddipa two each.
TMHS hit 15-19 from the charity stripe, including their last six points in a row, while West Valley went 9-14. Jason Gordon added 10 points for the Wolfpack, and Daniel Hornbuckle and Damon Gordon nine each, Jacob Carson seven, Daniel Remington two and Corey Kulis one. The Falcons led by four points with a minute remaining and S. Jahn, B. Jahn and Seymour each hit two free throws as the Wolfpack fouled to stop the clock.
“To step to the line and hit six straight free throws is huge,” Blasco said. “With under a minute to go and hitting six-for-six from the line is what you want. And now we end the road trip with Lathrop. This is not a make or break trip by any means but it is a lot of good experience and I am playing a lot of my bench which is good for additional minutes.”