Second ranked Sanford School came in to Thursday’s boys basketball tilt with visiting Hodgson Vo-Tech, on a four-game winning streak, not playing their best basketball.
That Warriors erased that recent trend in using what coach Stan Waterman called a championship defensive effort and Sabri Thompson’s three-point shooting to upend the fourth-ranked Silver Eagles, 61-50.
“I think it was huge for us. We’ve been winning games the last couple of weeks but not really playing well,” Waterman said. “I thought we played really well tonight, especially defensively. Going into the tournament, you hope to build a little bit of momentum. I think tonight this gives some momentum.”
Sanford’s defensive effort was strongest in the third quarter, when it held Hodgson to just 10 points, turning a 27-25 halftime lead to a 48-37 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
The Silver Eagles (16-3) made just three field goals in the third quarter as the Warriors’ defensive pressure led to turnovers and several one-and-done possessions.
Sanford’s lead was never really threatened in the fourth quarter, as each time the Silver Eagles pulled within single digits, the Warriors (15-3) responded with a couple of baskets to get their lead back to a comfortable margin to earn a much needed momentum-building win over a high-quality opponent.
“It’s a pretty big win for us. Going into the playoffs, it gave us a spark,” Thompson said.
One of the reasons why Sanford pulled away from Hodgson in the second half was the Warriors’ guards’ ability to attack the Silver Eagle zone defense, opening up space for Thompson, who made three of his five three-pointers in the second half.
“I felt like I had to stay with my form and keep knocking down shots when I was open,” Thompson, who scored a game-high 17 points, said. “Since they were in the zone, they were going for all of our pump fakes. When we drove and kicked, they came in, and it opened up space for me and my teammates.”
In addition Thompson’s 17 points, Kyle Rose tallied 13 points for Sanford, with Austin Ford and Anthony Mosley adding nine points each. Nick Richards scored 12 points to lead Hodgson, and Bilal Nichols and Roy Jones scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.