After leaving Ava with a 63-57 setback to the Lady Bears Jan. 12 in their South Central Association opener, the Thayer Lady Bobcats were looking to bounce back at home and put the first loss of the season behind them.
Bounce back they did, as the Lady Bobcats, currently ranked number eight in Class 2, pounded the Liberty Lady Eagles 65-25 Jan. 15.
Thayer (11-1) took advantage of the Lady Eagles' ballhandling woes, seemingly swiping the basketball away at will, and finishing the game with more steals than a holding cell full of pickpockets.
Setting the tone of the contest early, Thayer busted out to a 15-2 lead, keyed in part by back-to-back treys from LaShanda Horton and Kylee McAlmond.
Horton finished the game with 12 points, while McAlmond posted most of her 13 points on the low blocks.
Not wanting to go away so fast, the Lady Eagles kept Thayer from completely dismantling them early with a run late in the first period.
Closing with a 7-3 spurt, Liberty drew within nine, 18-9, at the end of the first period.
This streak proved to be about the most productive stretch on offense that the Lady Eagles would enjoy as the Lady Cats took control in the second period.
Megan Underwood, Thayer's All-State performer at guard, turned in nine of her game-high 22 points in the frame to help the Lady Bobcats to a comfortable 35-19 lead at the half.
If Liberty thought the second period was slow, scoring 10 points in the frame, the last half of play was worse, as Thayer's lightning quick hands on defense forced numerous turnovers from the Lady Eagles. The Lady Cats held Liberty to six points for the entire second half.
Thayer seized the momentum early in the third, primed by triples from Underwood and Horton.
The Lady Eagles did manage two free throws in the third, but it was all Thayer as McAlmond ended the period with six straight points, all on layups, as the Lady Bobcats held a 54-21 lead after three.
Becky Sansouci logged Liberty's only field goal of the second half at the 6:58 mark of the fourth, but the outcome had long been decided at that point, with Thayer cruising to a 30-point victory.
Sansouci paced Liberty with 10 points.
Summer Jones tallied six points for Thayer, while Sarah Caldwell and Valerie Dixon added four points each. Christa Cox and Tasha Wrenfrow finished with two points apiece for the Lady Bobcats.
In junior varsity action, the junior varsity Lady Bobcats throttled the junior varsity Lady Eagles 43-13, applying the same stifling defense used by their varsity counterparts.
Thayer outscored Liberty 26-3 over the middle two periods before the junior varsity Lady Eagles broke loose for four points in the fourth period.
Leading 9-6 after the first period, the junior varsity Lady Bobcats turned an 18-8 halftime lead into a 35-9 advantage after three by holding Liberty to just one free throw in the third period.
Thayer went on to outscore Liberty 8-4 in the last period to post a 30-point win.
Brittany Allen paced Thayer with 12 points, while Tasha Wrenfrow added nine, and Heather Coffel eight. Valerie Dixon and Autumn Forschler added four each, and April Risner, Tiffany Poulette and Shawna Burkett finished with a bucket apiece.
The Bobcats opened South Central Association play in fine fashion Jan. 16, winning 50-45 at Ava.
Josh Wemlinger paced Thayer with a game-high 17 points, while Aaron Henry added 12, and Layne Hawkins 7. Andrew Eckman finished with five, Brett Ward four, John Tollenaar three and Jesse Gaines two for the Bobcats.
It's a wonder Thayer enough energy left to beat Ava after their tilt with the Eminence Redwings Jan. 13.
The Redwings hit a free throw with no time left on the clock in double-overtime to force a third extra period, with Eminence going on to win 82-79 in three overtimes.
Wemlinger had another big game for Thayer, posting 24 points. Henry added 16, and Hawkins 14. Eckman logged 11, Ward eight, Gaines four and Tollenaar two.