The opening period was stunning. The Falcons were amazingly tough on offense. The strategy was obviously to keep Mike Thomas out of the ballgame. They smothered him in the paint and forced the Bulldogs to try and make outside shots. The VPHS boys didn’t get a chance to make a legitimate shot till the 5:33 mark in the first period. The score was 9-0 before Perez Thomas got the Dogs on the board with a pretty jumper. Thomas would wind up getting in foul trouble. He had two of his five allowed midway through the initial period. The touchy whistles unfortunately allowed the Falcons to play their style of basketball and led to a first period score of 19-4.
Despite being down to what seemed to be an unstoppable force, the Bulldogs did not panic. First-year Head Coach Tommy Jones kept the team calm and this allowed the VPHS boys to get back in the game. Perez Thomas hit a big three-point bomb right before the half and that made it a five-point game going into the halftime. He went on to score nine points in the game and had six in the second period alone. Ville Platte was able to get some offense going on a series of fast breaks led by Brandon Dommick. The Falcons were paying so much attention to Mike Thomas that it allowed some of the other VPHS players to exploit the STA team. As the end of the second period loomed, the Bulldogs cut their deficit and made it a halftime score of 24-19.
Things nearly got out of hand in the third period. The Bulldogs picked up where they left off in the second, trading baskets with the Falcons for the first four minutes of the period. Then, the two teams became frustrated at the same time with the whistle, which naturally led to more problems. VPHS maintained their composure and continued to battle. Mike Thomas began to find a groove and helped the Bulldogs stay close. The distractions began hurting both teams due to the officiating and outside influences. Toward the end of the frame, Mike Thomas would be called for his fourth foul. It coincidentally came as the Bulldogs tied up the game at 33-33 and the period ended.
Despite a wild third period, the Bulldogs were not determined to give in. Shannon Semien and Kendall Ardoin worked as a one-punch duo despite the fact that foul trouble was looming. Semien and Ardoin each hit a three-point shot in the period. Semien’s gave VPHS a momentary lead and Ardoin’s did the same after the home team tied the game. The STA boys slowed the game down a lot in an effort to force VPHS to do something they did not want to do. The Falcons stuck to their game plan of trying to force the visitors to shoot from the outside and not give them an easy lane inside the paint. As the period dissolved so did tempers. Two players from STA were ejected after an altercation on the court right after Mike Thomas committed his fifth foul of the night and had to leave the game. Thomas led the Bulldogs with 12 points in the game.
From that point, the clock ran away from the Bulldogs, they found themselves in a two-possession game. A questionable call with 17 seconds left to go, sent St. Thomas Aquinas’ best shooter to the free throw line. The young man hit his shots and made it a three-possession game, pretty much icing the clock and the game for VPHS.
The Bulldogs finish the season with another great season. Despite the tough loss to the third seed, the VPHS program will continue to grow in a strong manner under the tutelage of Coach Tommy Jones. In his first year, Jones guided the Dogs to nearly 30 wins, a district championship and a very good run in the post-season.