Hoke County’s Tarique Thompson had his way on every inch of Fairmont High School’s home court Thursday night. The 6-foot-5 senior filled it up from deep, hitting four 3-pointers, and dominated the paint en route to a game-high 36 points, leading the Bucks to a 77-55 road win over the Golden Tornadoes.
It was bit of deja vu for Fairmont coach Michael Baker and the Golden Tornadoes, who saw Thompson, an undeclared Division I prospect, drop 29 in their 84-71 season-opening loss to Hoke on Nov. 20.
“We can’t give a guy like that that good of looks, and that’s what we did. We gave him every kind of look he wanted,” Baker said. “We knew he was a stand-up shooter and we gave him too much room. We told them from the start, if you let him get his feet set, he’s going to shoot it and make it.”
Thompson didn’t take long to make the Golden Tornadoes (1-2) pay. Notably, Fairmont was still playing without two of its starters, seniors Charlton Townsend, out a month with a broken foot, and Jackie Oxendine, day-to-day with a sprained knee. Following Fairmont’s strong finish to the first quarter, where Shemar Barfield hit a 3 in the final minute to cut it to 18-16, Thompson took over.
The agile lefty racked up 13 points in the frame, hitting a 3 at the 5-minute mark to put Hoke (3-0) up 31-22 and another triple with 2:19 left that gave the Bucks their first double-digit lead at 37-27.
The latter 3 splashed over the outstretched arm of Fairmont sophomore Kwinton Hinson, triggering a Thompson smile in Hinson’s direction that seemed to say ‘step aside, sophomore.’
Hinson, who finished with a team-high 18 points, went toe-to-toe with Thompson in the teams’ opener, scoring 28 in his Fairmont debut. Carrying a 41-29 lead into halftime, Hoke kept the pace in the third with its hot-hand Thompson in the driver’s seat.
Only now, after showcasing his outside touch in the first half, Thompson’s destination was the rim. He showed as much two minutes into the half when he emphatically flexed his inside presence. On a 2-on-1 fastbreak off a Fairmont turnover, Thompson was fed a pass by Brennen Wright and took flight, hammering a left-handed dunk over a Fairmont defender as he was fouled.
The showstopping 3-point play gave the Bucks a 49-33 cushion.
“They beat us to all the loose balls and everything,” Baker said. “When you start picking up the loose balls, they’re going to lead to layups … And we weren’t making shots. When you’re not making shots and not picking up loose balls, you’re going to get in trouble quick.”
Hinson and Barfield, who chipped in a season-high 17 points, did their best to limit the trouble but it wasn’t enough. Midway through the fourth Hinson scored five straight — a runner and high-arching fadeaway 3-pointer — to make for a 66-53 count, but it never got closer.
Joining Thompson in double figures were the Bucks KeShawn Shaw with 15 points and Rashad Parker with 12. Despite the two losses to Hoke, which advanced to the regional round of the state playoffs last season, Baker is pulling positives from the early-season tests.
“We know that when it gets to the playoffs we’re going to face teams of that caliber, in that category,” Baker said. “Who do you play? How do you handle them? Now we know we got work to do."
Evans ignites Fairmont girls
Anasia Evans erupted for 25 points, leading the Fairmont girls basketball team to a 54-42 home win over Hoke on Thursday night.
Evans helped the Golden Tornadoes avenge their 49-46 loss at Hoke on Nov. 20, a game in which Evans fouled out of with six minutes left and Fairmont (2-1) led for all but 45 seconds. Na’Jewel Ingram joined Evans in double-digits with 15 points. Symone Thompson led Hoke (1-2) with 14.