Thomas scores 24 on birthday to lead Dunham
Quinton Thomas got to enjoy a victory — and a postgame birthday cookie cake, too.
The Dunham School senior celebrated his birthday by scoring a game-high 24 points, including a key 3-pointer in the final two minutes and five free throws in the final 1:18 to lead the Tigers past Episcopal 75-70 in a crucial District 6-2A boys basketball game.
Thomas’ 3-pointer helped stave off one of several Knights rallies Friday night at Episcopal.
“I was just confident when I shot it,” Thomas said of the 3-pointer. “I knew my team needed it. This was big because they’re right behind us in power points (in Class 2A). Plus we owed them a little payback because they beat us here last year.”
Thomas was one of four players who scored in double figures for the Tigers (18-3, 4-0). Dylon Maggio and Jyron Walker each added 16, while Tre Scott added 13 to complete a sweep for the Tigers.
Dunham scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to notch a 37-35 come-from-behind win in the girls game. Bria Manuel scored a game-high 20 points for the Tigers (18-7, 3-2), including seven in the fourth quarter.
“It never is easy, especially when you play here,” Dunham coach Jonathan Pixley said. “It will be close where ever we play. We know each other very well, and this rivalry means a lot for both schools.
“I thought both teams played very well offensively, which made the defenses look not as good. But really they played well. There were some guys who made some incredible shots.”
Chris Beckman Jr. and Spencer Kleinpeter each had 22 points to pace Episcopal. Beckman made perhaps the shot of the night. The son of the Episcopal coach was fouled while making a long-range 3-pointer. He made the ensuing free throw to tie the game at 67-67 with 1:29 remaining.
Thomas answered by sinking two free throws with 1:18 left to put the Tigers ahead for good.
“You had some guys score points on both sides, but they all to work for them,” Episcopal coach Chris Beckman said. “Both teams hit some big shots at big times. Dunham just hit a few more than we did. We tied it a couple of times, but we could never get over the hump.”
Dunham led by eight after one quarter and four, at 33-29, at halftime. The Knights tied it at 33 early in the third quarter on two free throws by Michael Brundage. But Dunham scored eight of the next 10 points and led by seven going into the fourth quarter.
DUNHAM 37, EPISCOPAL 35: Episcopal (12-12, 2-3) held the upper hand through the first half. But the Tigers outscored the Knights 12-5 in the third quarter to tie the game at 25.
That’s when Manuel and Dunham took over.
Two free throws by Michiko Jackson gave Dunham the lead just over a minute into the fourth quarter. Dunham never trailed again.
Auburn signee Bria Johnson led Episcopal with 15. The Knights made just 4-of-16 fourth-quarter shots, but did get within two on a 3-pointer by Janell Jones with 1.8 seconds left. Dunham then ran out the clock.
“At halftime we decided to pick up the pace on them and it worked,” Dunham coach Chad Myers said. “We went to a press and got some turnovers and they took some quick shots. And we made other players besides Johnson make plays, and it worked.”