Posting 34 points in the fourth quarter, No. 10 Thorndale pulled off an improbable 58-55 victory over Bartlett Friday night at Bulldog Gym in a battle for district supremecy.
The comeback kept the 10th ranked Bulldogs perfect in District 26A at 3-0 while improving to 12-4 on the season.
Thorndale defeated Georgetown Gateway Tuesday night (see below).
Bartlett, which had won four straight coming in, dropped to 14-5 and 2-1.
Through three quarters, the Bulldogs had put up just 24 points and were trailing by 24 (48-24) with six minutes, 42 seconds left to go.
“For whatever reason with 5:24 left in the game our kids stepped up and made a run to try and win the game,” said Thorndale Coach Doug Franklin. “I wish I could say I called time out and gave a great speech and the kids responded but that didn’t happen. The fact is our players took it upon themselves to keep playing hard despite the score and refused to quit.
“I don’t know if they thought they could win the game, but their pride was hurt being down so big in a district game of this importance and they just wanted to finish the game strong and kept playing hard.”
Down 22 with 5:24 remaining, Thorndale began to make a move with a 10-0 run to close the gap to 52-40.
Bartlett converted two free throws to make it 54-40 with 3:37 left. Bartlett will score just one more point the rest of the way, while Thorndale will reel off 18.
With 2 minutes left, Thorndale is still trailing by double figures (11), but reel off another 10-point burst to close within 54-53 with 48 seconds showing.
Bartlett sank one-of-two free throws and Thorndale is down 55-53.
With 28 seconds left, Thorndale made the first of two free throws and Bartlett can’t handle the second miss and knocked the ball out of bounds under the Thorndale basket.
Thorndale took advantage of the turnover with a basket and finally the lead, 56-55.
Bartlett puts up a shot with five seconds left and is called for an intentional foul which Thorndale converts for the winning 58-55 score.
Jordan Hafley led the way with 13, while Aaron Laurence chipped in 11 and Riley Schaefer 10.
Schaefer also registered four assists and four steals.
The relentless Bulldogs caused 12 turnovers which was converted into 16 points. Sam Stockton led the barrage of thefts (23) with six steals.
Junior forward Weston Rafay led Bartlett with 24 points.
How did Thorndale get in this mess in the first place?
“Give Bartlett a lot of credit, Franklin said. “We basically played the first quarter even, then the second and third quarter was domination by them. Any mistake we made they capitalized on, they made it hard on us to inbound the ball against their press and they forced us into bad plays with their penetration and dish.”
Then, inexplicably, something kicked in.
“All of the sudden we are mak- ing plays and hitting big shots and the score is slowly coming down to where winning the game is manageable,” said Franklin. “I give all the credit to our players for making that kind of comeback.
“I also appreciate the crowd support. I don’t think many people left while we were getting blown out and when we eventually got back in the game they were insanely loud. The crowd gave us a little extra push at the end that helped us win the game.
“To say the least, this was an incredibly exciting game for us, especially the last five minutes, but I told the guys after the game lets just win one without this much drama on Tuesday.”
There was no drama Tuesday as the Bulldogs blasted Georgetown Gateway 62-32 on the road to improve to 13-4 overall and 4-0 in district.
Schaefer erupted for 20 points to lead Thorndale followed by Hinistroza’s 12.
The Bulldogs led 32-18 at intermission