If their season opening game at Bakersfield Dec. 5 was any indication, the Thayer Bobcats appear primed to pick up where they left off last year.
The Bobcats, after making it to the Class A Final Four last year, hammered the host Lions 71-26 in their first outing this year.
While the deliberate offensive pace of last year's Bobcat squad has been replaced by an up-tempo attack, Thayer's trademark smothering defense is still in place as the Bobcats held the Lions to 19 points in the first half of play.
The Bobcats got down to business quickly in the first frame as Brett Ward (17 points) opened the frame on fire by canning three treys in the first period.
By the time Ward knocked in his third bomb, at the 4:52 point, the Bobcats held a 15-4 advantage.
Layne Hawkins (13 points) continued the long-distance barrage with a trey of his own late in the first, as the Bobcats moved in front 24-9 after the first period.
It was more of the same in the second as the Bobcats limited Bakersfield's looks at the hoop on the defensive end, while pouring on the coals on the offensive end.
The Bobcats held a 30-11 lead early as Josh Wemlinger drained his first 3-ball of the game just inside the start of the second period.
Wemlinger paced the Bobcats with a game high 23 points.
Thayer ended the frame on a 10-3 run, including Hawkins' second shot behind the arc, to lead 41-19 at halftime.
The Bobcats stiffened even more in the second half, holding the Lions to just two field goals, and seven points in the game's last 16:00.
Up 52-22 late in the third, Wemlinger cruised to the hoop for a two-handed dunk with so much thunder that the North rim in Bakersfield's gymnasium is probably still shaking.
Wemlinger added another jam midway into the last period as the Bobcats outscored the Lions 11-4 in the frame to pick up their first win of the year, 71-26.
Aaron Henry and Andrew Eckman added 10 points each for the Bobcats, while Dustin Gaines posted two points, and Jesse Gaines one for Thayer.
In JV action, the Bobcats hammered the Lions JV squad 50-20.
Eric Veatch led Thayer with 12, while Jacob Sims and M.J. Clark added eight each. Nicholas Sims added six, and Bret Cotham and Anthony Martin posted five each, while Zach Keller logged two points.