They caught up with each other Tuesday night at Anniston High, but most of the communication was done less with words and more with play on the court. In the end, Thomas’ Aggies, ranked fourth in Class 5A, scored a 47-42 win over 4A No. 6 Anniston.
“We have to fight. We have to continuously fight. That’s what coach stressed after the game,” Bolton said. “It seemed like we lay down. We didn’t come out with the intensity that we needed in the first half and that’s what led to us losing.”
Bolton, a post player, is an Alabama signee, while Thomas, who often is on the wing, has signed with Florida State, and the two are among the top players in the state.
Thomas scored a game-high 24 points. Bolton had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Ki-Yana Bullock added 10 points for the Bulldogs.
Although they play different positions, there were moments throughout the night when the two guarded each other, including late in the fourth quarter when Anniston was in the midst of a comeback.
With Thomas on Bolton, that gave Bolton a chance to make passes to into the lane, which sparked the comeback midway through the fourth, ultimately allowing Anniston to tie the game 39-39 with 3:23 left.
“Since we pulled her away from the basket, we knew we could set some off-ball picks and I knew I could be more passive. She was more focused on me so I could help my teammates to score,” Bolton said. “I knew I was going to have to step up and lead my team. Coach (Eddie) Bullock got onto me a lot during halftime so I knew it was going to have to be my half. I felt if I came out and showed our team what to do rather than tell them, I felt like we’d get back in the game.”
However, once the Bulldogs (13-5) tied the Aggies 39-39, Thomas essentially took over.
She scored the next three baskets for Sylacauga (16-3), while the Aggies’ defense pressed Anniston and held it to a mere free throw during that span, giving Sylacauga a 45-40 lead in the final minute of play.
“If you want to stop a good team you have to take the leader out. That was the whole objective,” Bullock said. “We wanted to make her shoot jump shots. That’s out of her element.
“In the end we made her take some jump shots, but they were uncontested. That’s something we have to work on. Over the last three weeks we’ve been working constantly on defense.”
Anniston will travel to Talladega on Thursday.
Anniston boys 60, Sylacauga 54, OT: Four quarters wasn’t enough Tuesday night to separate the Bulldogs and Aggies.
Hot shooting helped Anniston rally to put the game into overtime. The Bulldogs then scored seven of its 10 points in overtime at the free-throw line to pick up the win.
“During the game we missed so many of them, it was time we hit some free throws. We’re just blessed that we were ready to hit them in overtime,” Anniston coach Schuessler Ware said. “We hadn’t been shooting well and free throws were something we worked on well before the game. We also shoot them every day during practice.”
Quint Dobbins led the way for Anniston with 11 points and 16 rebounds. Quin Jackson added 10 points and seven boards, DeMarcus Thomas had 12 points and eight rebounds and Qua Frazier scored 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
Sylacauga’s Kadeem Jackson and Rodney Gilbert each scored 15 points, respectively.
Anniston (12-5) will return to the court Thursday against Talladega on the road.
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star