The young Bobcats came into the 13th annual Cabool Holiday Tournament seated nine in the 16-team tournament, with their first round match up game vs. the eighth seated Norwood Pirates, on Dec. 26.
The Bobcats outpaced the Pirates for a 54-39 victory in the first round, and moved up in the winners bracket to face the number 1 seated, state ranked and previously undefeated Eminence Redwings.
The Bobcats jumped out to an 11-8 first quarter lead, and a ten point half time advantage 27-17 over the high flying Redwings. Thayer maintained the lead, 42-33, at the end of three quarters.
The Redwings strong full court press gave the Bobcats difficulties the entire game. Eminence's quick guards picked off Thayer's dribble and turned possessions into points. Halfway through the final frame, Redwing ball pressure in the back court, resulted in a Bobcat turn over that allowed the Redwings to take a one-point lead over the Bobcats, 43-42.
Thayer's junior point guard Jacob Foley nailed a three point shot to tie the game at 45 points apiece. Eminence sank a deep bucket to jump ahead as the clock ticked down under the two minute mark. Zack Steed came up big for the Bobcats with one of his (14 pts) four three-point shots, and Foley sank a couple of critical free throws late in the game.
Eminence had two long shots in the final seconds, which bounced off the rim and out, to give the Thayer Bobcats the win, 53-50, and advance to the semi-final round, to face the (fourth seated) Licking Wildcats.
Foley led the Bobcats with 18 points, and Zack Steed added four three-pointers for 12 Bobcat points. Hargrove added nine, Webber eight, Levi Jenkins netted four, and Alford two in the Thayer win.
Thayer Bobcats and Licking Wildcats battled to a 12-12 tie at the end of one, in the Semi-final game of the Cabool Holiday Tournament. Both the Wildcats and the Bobcats matched up and were tied at half time.
There was still no clear advantage at either end of the court, with the Bobcats and Wildcats both netting ten points in the third for a 35-35 tie.
The Bobcats caught fire in the forth quarter, pounding the defensive boards and sinking shots for 19 points, while holding Licking to 6 final quarter points. Thayer took the Semi-final victory 54-41 over Licking and moved into the Championship game, to face the Liberty Eagles.
The 13th holiday tournament championship game came down to a battle between the ninth seated Thayer Bobcats and the number two seated Liberty Eagles. This is where the ole statement "It's not over -- till it's over" comes into play.
Liberty had the look and attitude of "We've got this one in the bag" when they jumped out to a twelve nothing lead. Although the Bobcats were able to get some good shots off, they seemed to be "Throwing up Bricks" as shot attempts bounced off the rim. Thayer got on the scoreboard at the 2:19 mark of the first quarter, with two points from the free throw line by Levi Hargrove. Those were the only points Thayer would tally in the first, while Liberty racked up twenty one points for a 21-2 Liberty lead at the end of one.
The young Bobcats scrapped back into the game with defense, holding the Eagles to only seven second quarter points. Thayer's sixth man Levi Jenkins sank back to back buckets to help get the Bobcats started on an offensive recovery, as the Bobcats narrowed the Liberty lead to 28-15 at the half.
Half way through the third frame, Thayer cheerleaders and fans were on their feet as the Cats cut the Liberty lead down to five points 32-27 and shaved three more points off that, to finish the third period behind just, 33-31.
After a missed Liberty shot, Thayer's Levi Hargrove pulled down one of his game total 26 rebounds, and advanced the ball to Jacob Foley at mid court. Weaving his way through Eagle defenders, Foley scored a lay up to knot the score at 39 with 2:34 remaining on the play clock.
As the final buzzer sounded, the point total for the Bobcats and the Eagles were tied at 43-43, sending the championship game into a four minute overtime.
Almost two full minutes of the overtime period went by before either team scored. In the remaining two minutes of overtime play, the Eagles pulled ahead to take home the first place trophy. Final score in overtime Liberty 53- Thayer 48
Two Thayer Bobcats were named to the All-Tournament team: Zack Steed and Levi Hargrove