After he scored 41 points in the opening game of his senior season, it would be easy for Jerec Thompson’s teammates on the Orange men’s basketball team to let him carry the load down the stretch of tight games.
But that’s not the recipe for success.
Instead, against Carrboro on Tuesday night at Panther Gymnasium, it was another Thompson that came through with the biggest play of the game.
With the game tied 56-56 with 2:26 remaining, Thompson did a flashy crossover to shake Carrboro point guard Ti’von Bird, then drilled a 3-pointer to put Orange (2-3) ahead for good. Joshua Jackson hit enough free throws in the final minute as Orange pulled out a 61-58 victory over Carrboro for the Panthers first home win of the season.
Jerec Thompson finished with 27 points, including 21 in the first half. Ethan Stutts led Carrboro (3-1) with 19 points, but was scoreless in the final quarter.
J.J. Thompson had all nine of his points off three-pointers in the final five minutes of regulation.
“That’s not unexpected,” said Orange coach Darryl Britt. “We’ve been preaching for J.J. to do this type of thing the whole time. Luckily he knocked them down tonight. I hope in the future, we won’t have to push him so hard because everybody is going to try to take J.T. (Jerec Thompson) away at times like that.”
After J.J.’s crossover three-pointer, Carrboro’s L.J. Riggsbee scored off a rebound and was fouled by Orange’s Ryan Moss with 2:08 remaining. But Riggsbee missed the subsequent free throw that would have tied the game and the Jaguars didn’t score again.
Thompson’s 3-pointer turned out to be the final field goal of the game. Jackson, who finished with nine points, made three big three throws in the final minute. Carrboro had several chances to even the game in the waning minutes, but Jerec Thompson and Darius Corbett came up with crucial rebounds after Jaguars misses from the field. With under a minute remaining, Carrboro forced a steal and broke out in transition set to tie the game, but the Jaguars were called for traveling.
Orange didn’t trail in the first half, but its largest lead was seven. After Jackson opened the game with a 3-pointer, Thompson drained consecutive 3-pointers in the first quarter, including one from 30-feet to put Orange in the lead for the remainder of the half. Jackson was fouled on a 3-pointer on the subsequent possession, and made two free throws.
Stutts scored 15 points in the first half for the Jaguars. Carrboro had three chances to even the game in the second quarter, but the Panthers came up with stops on every trip.
Riggsbee put the Jaguars ahead in the third quarter after two free throws.
Tuesday’s game was the start of a five-game homestead for Orange. They will host Riverside on Friday night.
WOMEN’S GAME: ORANGE 68, CARRBORO 36
Two Orange women’s players had career-highs as the Lady Panthers defeated Carrboro 68-36 on Tuesday night.
Senior guard Samantha George put up 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field, including both of her 3-point attempts. Last Thursday, George had a career-high of 19 points in a win over the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham.
Another senior guard, Nikayla Whitted, added eleven points and six steals. Whitted, who played at Gravelly Hill Middle School, reached double-figures for the first time in her career.
Senior point guard Aaliyah Harris added 18 points as Orange improved to 3-2. Jarmil Wingate added eight points.
It was the first home game of the season for Orange. The Lady Panthers opened the season with road trips to Graham, Chapel Hill, Durham and Pittsboro.