Number one with a bullet.
The Thayer Bobcats, on a serious roll all year long, have finally climbed the Class 2 ranks and made it all the way to the top, a number one ranking re-enforced by a pair of big South Central Association victories last week for the league-leading Cats.
The Bobcats started their week with a tight 48-44 road win over the Ava Bears Feb. 5.
Thayer led 6-4 after a low-scoring first period, but the Bobcats opened some much-needed breathing room in the second by outpacing Ava 14-4 before the half.
The Bears made things interesting late in the going, but Thayer managed to secure the victory with clutch play down the stretch.
Blake Horton fired in a game-high 22 points for Thayer, with Lance Schneider adding 17. Michael Lowther finished with five, Matt Kojdecki four and Jacob Eckman two.
Returning home for Courtwarming night Feb. 8, the Bobcats blasted the visiting Mountain View/Birch Tree Liberty Eagles 63-42.
Thayer's aggressive 1-3-1 defense filled the passing lanes and just kept the young Eagles off balance all evening long.
Garrett Smith broke free for a game-high 20 points against the Eagles, while Schneider hit for 13 and Horton nine. Kojdecki logged eight, Luke Martin five, Lowther four and Ryan Tate one.
The Bobcats started an impressive three-game run with a huge 76-39 win Feb. 1 over the then SCA-leading Salem Tigers.
The Cats made it to Salem despite the icy weather that swept through the area and canceled classes at most local schools, and they made the most of their trip by ripping the Tigers by 37 points.
Salem's much-touted trio of guards and big man in the middle looked to be a major challenge for the Bobcats, but Thayer was off and running quickly, jumping out to an early 6-2 lead. This burst had the Tigers' coach signaling for a quick timeout.
This helped Salem settle down, and the Tigers hit a couple of shots, but Thayer surprised Salem with its Cat-like quickness of Lowther, Schneider and Horton.
Lowther (18 points) swiped an inbounds pass and then scored a couple of hoops as the Bobcats' defense turned into the Bobcats' offense, pushing Thayer in front 19-14 at the end of one.
Horton (19 points) and Schneider (13 points) had their strokes flowing from the outside and given the slightest crease, they also flashed down the baseline for more points. Smith (seven points) kept the pressure on Salem's post players, while Martin (four points) added some valuable floor time, keeping the Bobcats' rhythm going with rebounding and buckets on the inside.
Eckman (five points) did a workman's job in the paint and the Cats went to the half with a 32-23 lead.
In the second half, Thayer really got rolling and shoved the Tigers aside for good.
Thayer's weaving offense, fueled by offside screens, kept the Tigers guessing where the Bobcats would strike next. And by keeping things in constant motion, the Bobcats were able to get Lowther, Smith and Martin open under the net for a bunch of easy layups.
Kojdecki came off the bench to light up the scoreboard, play tough defense and rack up a load of steals.
Thayer scored a whopping 29 points in the third period while holding Salem to only 14, pushing the Bobcat advantage to 61-37 after three periods of play. There was no letup from Thayer in the final eight minutes and the Cats cruised to an important 76-39 win over the Salem Tigers.