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Lady Knights swept by undefeated Firebirds

Jan. 12—CREEDMOOR — On Thursday, the Vance Charter Lady Knights were subjected to the brilliant performance of Falls Lake senior Emerson Thompson, losing to the Firebirds 69-54.

Thompson (22.2 PPG) contributed to her historic senior year Thursday night. Dropping 32 last time she played the Knights, this time at home, the fourth-year guard bagged a triple-double (28 PTS, 15 REB, 11 AST) and found a way to impact the game at every level. Her team played through her.

"This senior year means everything to me, I love playing for this school," said Thompson.

Despite a competitive first half and a modest final point differential, the game was not close in the second half. After hanging around early with strong defense and good shooting, "all of that went out the window," according to Vance Charter head coach Brian Howard.

"We didn't come out to play," said Howard. "I don't know what tonight was."

"When you play inferior competition a lot, you can get away with some things that you can't when you play good competition," he said.

"That's on me for not having them ready to play. It won't happen again. Win, lose, or draw, your energy and effort have to be there every night."

Vance Charter found themselves down 10 points when they jogged out of the visiting locker room at halftime. Despite being swept in the season-series against Falls Lake (15-0), Howard expects to see this team again in the playoffs.

"She's really good," he said. "The mystique gets to our kids a little bit, but Alyssa is going to be D1 too. Until we can get over the fact that [Thompson] is a D1 player, we are always going to come up short."

With over a month before the postseason, Howard will have time to prepare a different defensive scheme.

"Obviously the game plan tonight didn't work, and the one last time didn't work either. We just have to get better," he said.

Thompson was the low man in their 2-3 zone, and unabated by a five-second violation that the officials were determined not to call, she provided excellent low-post help on any dribble drive and was in an excellent position to swallow up board. Thompson, also an exquisite ball handler was picked up at half court but the older Bullock sister — Alaina.

A jab step from Thompson and a right-to left crossover freed her up for a floater in the second half.

The Firebirds started with a big in the middle but spaced it out, at the suggestion of Thompson, who would rather get an assist and boost her teammates confidence than score herself. Having her way offensively, the Campbell-commit looked confident in the third and fourth quarter with the ball in her hands.

"I almost feel more confident finishing with my left because I practice it so much," Thompson said.

At one point, Thompson drove hard to her left in transition and ran straight into the brick wall of Alyssa Bullock. Bullock was called for the blocking foul she displaced the taller guard from her spot.

"She's really strong," Thompson said about Bullock after the game.

Falls Lake senior Lindsey Crabtree swatted away a Vance Charter layup in transition. Down 20 points in the third, coach Howard took the Bullock sisters, and Kat Suther out of the game.

A Firebirds three erupted the near-capacity Falls Lake gymnasium, and the Lady Knights answered with a three of their own off the glass. With a big lead, the Firebirds continued to fire away from distance, ending the period up 20 points.

In the fourth, Alyssa Bullock swished a corner three. Down 17 with seven minutes left, the Knights' lineup was the Bullocks, Suther, Caelyn Bunn, and London Whitehead.

Bunn thought about saving a wild rebound but let it go — Firebirds ball. Thompson received the ball on a cut, and passed out of a triple team as the defense crashed to set her teammate up for an and-one — 61-40.

More good perimeter shooting from the Bullocks as Alaina swished in a three, but it was too little and too late as a Firebirds layup got the home crowd out of their seats.

Now 8-2 on the year, with both losses handed to them by the Firebirds, the Lady Knights will look to turn things around next week when they face Excelsior on the road.