Some of the greatest benefits gained from playing basketball are the lessons learned through competition. And Thomson High School coach Michael Thomas is one of the area's finest teachers of young men. As his Bulldogs (19-4, 7-3) prepare to take the court in tonight's opening round of the Region 3-AAA tournament,* they are learning about concentrating on the things they can affect, and ignoring the things they cannot.
After losing only four games this season, the Bulldogs, sub region 3B-AAA's third seed, faces a formidable opponent, the Hepzibah Rebels, in today's round. The Rebels (8-11, 2-8) are playing well, recently defeating Burke County, Cross Creek, and class AAAA member Evans. Without the benefits of their leader's wisdom and experience, gained during the course of a 29 year career as Thomson's head coach, Bulldog players may be tempted to feel sorry for themselves after missing out on the first round bye awarded to the top two teams in each sub region. But the veteran coach has provided guidance with a consistent approach. "The seed is important, but the most important thing is that we play well, because any team can beat any team in this region. So we take things one possession, one practice, and one game at a time," Thomas said toward the end of the regular season.
That focus will be key in determining the results of the Bulldogs' post season. It has been said that doing the right things poorly is more effective than doing the wrong things well. Coach Thomas is teaching his players that focusing on the correct things - the next possession, the next game - is more important to their success than focusing on something outside of their control - the tournament seed. And under Thomas, the Bulldogs have tended to do things well, both this season and over the past three decades.
*The Augusta Basketball Report will provide complete coverage of post season action, starting with today's opening round play in the Region 3-AAA tournament. Coverage of Region 2-AAAA's tournament, featuring Effingham County, Evans, Lakeside, and Greenbrier, at Richmond Hill High School, and Region 7-A's tournament, featuring and hosted by Aquinas, will follow.
Region 3-AAA Breakdown
Where: T.W. Josey's James Henry Roundtree Athletic Complex
When: Monday-Saturday (Boys play Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday)
4 P.M. - Richmond Academy Musketeers (11-10, 6-4) vs Cross Creek Razorbacks (11-14, 2-8)
Both teams have recorded impressive wins during the regular season. Richmond defeated sub region rival and second seeded Josey two times, while Cross Creek twice defeated sub region 3B-AAA's top seed Westside. The teams split two games this season, both winning at home. The Washington County Golden Hawks await the winner.
5:30 P.M. - Burke County Bears (15-6, 4-6) vs Harlem Bulldogs (9-16, 2-8)
Burke County's fourth seed proves the difficulty of the competition in sub region 3A-AAA. The Bears' only losses have come against sub region opponents. Harlem is dangerous, as freshman guard Reggie Reid can score, and he can set up teammates for scoring opportunities. The winner will play the Westside Patriots Wednesday evening.
7 P.M. - Glenn Hills Spartans (11-13, 5-5) vs Grovetown Warriors (5-18, 0-10)
The Warriors face a stiff challenge against sub region 3A-AAA's third seed. Glenn Hills has looked great at times, defeating sub region rival and second seeded Butler, as well as Laney and Josey, during the regular season. The Josey Eagles are set to take on the game's winner Wednesday.
8:30 P.M. - Thomson Bulldogs (19-4, 7-3) vs Hepzibah Rebels (8-11, 2-8)
The Bulldogs are loaded with senior leadership, a veteran coaching staff, and the confidence that comes with a 19 win season. John John Atkins provides a reliable source of offense inside, while Ronkeem Sallywhite and Dwayne Williams handle much of the work on the perimeter. A Wednesday game against the Butler Bulldogs is the prize for the winner of this contest.