Thornton was a winner, from start to finish

March 29, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

Isaac Thornton's first and last games as a Martinsburg Bulldog had one thing in common. He was a winner.

Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers knew he had a jewel in Thornton's first start on Dec. 6, 2006, against Clarke County (Va.).

Thornton scored 20 points in the 67-51 victory. It was the first step en route to his career total of 1,302 points.

"I remember the game. I just knew I had to go out and hustle," said Thornton. "I hit everything that game."


In the final game of his prep career, Thornton sank two free throws with five seconds remaining on March 21 to lift the Bulldogs to a 53-52 victory over South Charleston in the West Virginia Class AAA state championship game.

"I knew the first free throw was the hardest because, if I missed, I really had to make the second to tie the game," said Thornton. "I was so nervous before the first shot and really nervous before the second. But my buddies were counting on me. It was the greatest feeling."

Thornton is The Herald-Mail All-Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

The 6-foot-3 senior guard averaged 18.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.4 steals, 3.4 assists and less than two turnovers a game this season. He posted the Tri-State's single-game high of the season with 43 points against Tuscarora, when he single-handedly carried the Bulldogs back from a 17-point deficit to win.

Thornton wasn't even sure he'd be playing varsity as a sophomore.

"My goal was to make varsity as a sophomore and I was just worried about making the team," said Thornton. "I knew I was good enough but there were so many other good players."

Three years later, history proves Thornton was good enough.

"As a sophomore (Isaac) was mannerly, polite, came to practice on time and played hard," said Rogers. "I got on him just like the others. He got no other special treatment."

"He became the player that made everyone else come to play to his level and he did it with all the intangibles like rebounding and assists. Both hands were equal and he could put the ball on the floor and create his shots. Not many can do that. He's in the top five players I've had."

In the time following Martinsburg's loss to Woodrow Wilson in last year's state quarterfinals, Thornton began to infuse his leadership with his teammates.

"That loss was the worst that could happen," said Thornton. "I told my teammates a couple of weeks later that we would be back (to state). Right before this season started, I talked to them all about winning the state."

The Bulldogs overcame their share of adversity. Thornton was forced to take over the Tuscarora game when Tevin Walker was out of the lineup. There were times when key players missed games because of illness and a stretch when Thornton himself played even though he should have been in an infirmary.

It was all part of the threads that made the Bulldogs champions.

"We had each other's backs," said Thornton. "We had a trust factor and we knew what we were capable of on and off the floor. We were one big family."

Joining Thornton on The Herald-Mail All-Area First Team are:

Morgan McDonald, Musselman

The 6-5 junior helped Musselman reach the West Virginia Class AAA quarterfinals with a 14.4 scoring average. He led the Tri-State with 10.3 rebounds per game.

Mike Russ, Saint James

The 6-1 senior is on the All-Area First Team for a second time. He was third in the area in scoring with a 19.7 scoring average. He also averaged 8.3 rebounds per game.

Brent Bell, North Hagerstown

The 6-0 senior battled both inside and outside on the way to a 17.8 point average. He averaged 7.9 rebounds a game, often against taller competition.

Tim Null, Waynesboro

The 6-5 senior was the best big player in the Mid-Penn Capital. He averaged 13.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for the Indians.

Dewey McDonald, Jefferson

The 6-2 senior led the Tri-State in scoring with a 20.4 point average. He averaged 6.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.2 steals.

Cameron Cato, Martinsburg

The 6-3 senior might have been the area's best defensive player, often stopping the opposition's best scorer. Cato averaged 10.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

Jonathan Alvarez, Musselman

The 5-9 senior guided the Applemen from his point guard position. He was third in the area with 5.7 assists per game, averaged 10.2 points and two steals.

J.R. Mayles, Hedgesville

The 6-3 senior averaged 13.8 points and five rebounds per game for the Eagles. This is Mayles' second appearance on the All-Area First Team.

All-Area Boys Second Team

Nic Martin St. Maria Goretti 5-9 Junior Guard

Michael Warrenfeltz Williamsport 6-3 Senior Center

Kyle Crist Clear Spring 6-2 Senior Guard

Armando Miller Broadfording 6-1 Senior Forward

Garrett Grantham Jefferson 6-0 Fresh Guard

Logan Holloman Musselman 6-5 Senior Forward

Taylor Dunn Mercersburg 6-2 Senior Forward

Maurice Newby Hedgesville 6-6 Senior Forward

Michael Cole Martinsburg 6-8 Senior Center

Tevin Walker Martinsburg 6-3 Senior Forward

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