Rebels gain momentum on Christmas break

Published 2:31 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Thorsby boys basketball head coach Tim Fortner entered the school’s Christmas Tournament with the mindset of winning two of the three games scheduled.

That mission was accomplished on Tuesday, as the Rebels defeated Westminster 65-38 on day two of the Thorsby Christmas Tournament.

“This beats practicing by a mile,” Fortner said.

Westminster did a good job of changing up their defensive scheme, which caused Thorsby to adapt at the offensive end.

“They normally play man and tonight they came out in a zone to slow us down some,” Fortner said. “It was kind of what Jemison played against us that we had trouble with because we wanted to go too quick. It was an open shot, but not necessarily a good shot.”

After a scoreless first couple of minutes the Rebels’ offense was ignited with back-to-back 3-pointers from Fortner and Tyler Jackson.

Thorsby led 13-7 at the end of the first quarter and 24-18 at halftime.

Noah Byrd drives to the basket for a layup in transition. (Photo by Anthony Richards)

Noah Byrd drives to the basket for a layup in transition. (Photo by Anthony Richards)

Fortner came out on fire from the field to start the second half, as he drained a pair of shots from long range and accounted for 10 of Thorsby’s first 12 points in the third quarter.

“We started moving the ball in the second half and we started getting some easier looks,” Fortner said. “A lot of times we’ll get stuck on one side of the floor. You have to swing it around and use the whole court to make the defense move.”

As a result, the Rebels were able to extend the lead to double digits and get several players involved in the game. Thorsby opened up the margin even more in the fourth quarter.

Eight different players found the score sheet for the Rebels, led by Fortner with a game-high 31 points, as well as six rebounds and six steals.

“When we share the ball, you can really feel us gelling as a team,” Christian Fortner said. “You’ve got to be aggressive with penetration and either kick it out or take the contact.”

Thorsby’s youth stood out in the game, as sophomores Jackson and Cole Farris each finished with eight points.

According to Fortner, the bench has gained more confidence as the year has progressed and he feels more comfortable no matter which player he puts into the game.

In recent years Thorsby has not played during the Christmas break, but Fortner decided to change things up this year.

“You get into a rhythm of playing every couple of nights and it stinks to go two weeks without a game,” Fortner said. “It’s better for us to play games, because you can only get so much out of practice.”

The Rebels beat Oak Grove 85-64 on day one of the tournament.