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Thomas' record-tying night leads TJ

March 04, 2002|BY MARK KELLER

FREDERICK, Md. - Even the youngest fans on hand Saturday at Thomas Johnson High School knew they had witnessed a special game from Jermaine Thomas.

"Jermaine had 51 points," a boy no more than five years old told his father as they left the gym. "That's good!"

You said a mouthful, kid.

Thomas put on a show in his final home game, tying a 26-year-old school record with those 51 points as the Patriots cruised past Meade 108-77 in the Class 4A East final, earning TJ another trip to the state semifinals at Cole Field House on Thursday.

TJ coach Tom Dickman kept Thomas in the game for a shot at breaking the record, which was set by Mike Rice in 1976.

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"I thought it was appropriate in his last home game to let him go for it after what he's meant to us for four years," Dickman said.

Thomas got a quick jump toward the mark with 28 points in the first half, outscoring the Mustangs all by himself as the Patriots (24-1) led 65-27 at the break.

He finished a slow third quarter with a 3-pointer at the buzzer, then kept things rolling in the fourth.

"I don't know if he knew he was near it or not," Dickman said. "He was probably wondering why he was still in the game."

Thomas scored the Patriots' first 17 points of the final period to get to 50, but he didn't know he had reached that milestone until he stepped to the free throw line with a chance to surpass the record.

"I looked over at my brother and he put up 5-0 (on his hands)," Thomas said. "I thought he was kidding."

Thomas missed the first of his two free throws - looked to the sideline at Dickman and cringed.

"When he misses a free throw, it takes me aback because he hardly ever misses," Dickman said.

Thomas hit the second shot to tie the mark, then came out of the game to a standing ovation. The Patriots hit 34 of 42 free throws in the game. Thomas was 21-for-24 from the line.

"There were a few times this year that Jermaine could have broken the record and we pulled him," Dickman said. "He plays like this on a day-to-day basis. This is nothing new."

The way the Patriots dominated Meade (19-7) was nothing new either. Employing a full-court press from the opening tip, TJ forced seven Meade turnovers in the first five minutes of the game to rip off a 25-0 run after the Mustangs scored the first bucket.

TJ never led by fewer than 18 points the rest of the way and at one point had stretched the lead to 52.

Thomas Richard had 24 points and Nate Naylor had 12 for the Patriots, who advanced to the state semifinals for the eighth time in 10 years.

Class 4A East final


TJ 108, Meade 77

MEADE (77)

Jackson 7, Jenkins 9, Benson 14, Smith 6, McAfee 4, Lewis 23, Williams 7, Breeley 5, Johnson 2. Totals 29 11-16 77.

THOMAS JOHNSON (108)

Gibbs 3, Garner 3, Thomas 51, Naylor 12, Richard 24, Marinello 2, Bryant 7, Ledyard 2, Ray 4. Totals 32 34-42 108.

Meade12152030-77

T. Johnson35301928-108

Three-point goals - Meade 8 (Jackson, Jenkins, Benson 2, Lewis 4), Thomas Johnson 10 (Gibbs, Thomas 6, Richard 2, Bryant). Fouled out - McAfee. Technical fouls - McAfee, Benson.

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