King/Drew defeats Crenshaw for Coliseum League championship

The rims were exhausted. Shots were hoisted, the ball rattled away again and again.

No one could make a jump shot on Friday night as Crenshaw guested King/Drew in a Coliseum League title clash, the game remaining scoreless for the first four minutes. Nobody found an offensive rhythm, points were exchanged like precious gems in the Middle Ages.

No one but King/Drew sophomore Donald Thompson, a lanky, dead eye who shoots balls like Lonzo. He plays for free. loose. With “swag,” as Golden Eagles coach Lloyd Webster put it. It’s necessary to have one of these guys if you’re struggling to score.

And with a 46-tie in a back-and-forth fourth quarter and less than a minute to go, King/Drew newcomer JayShaun Kibble threw a corner pass to Thompson, who buried another massive three-pointer.

“Boom!” Thompson mumbled on Crenshaw’s bench.

His 22 points led King/Drew to a 53-50 win. A program that has felt underappreciated all season pushed Crenshaw to his fourth straight Coliseum League title.

“Lucky as hell, really,” said a beaming Thompson after the game.

When offenses stuttered in the first half, Thompson was there, cantering and absorbing contact for two wilds and a finish. When Crenshaw challenged after the break and took the lead in the fourth quarter after dropping eight points in the third, Thompson was there, lifting for massive jumpers to swing the pendulum back in favor of the Golden Eagles.

“We found him,” Crenshaw coach Ed Waters said.

Thompson’s confidence is infectious, and the natural flair in his game makes perfect sense given the No. 24 on his Golden Eagles jersey. It’s a reference to grandfather John Smith – a Harlem globetrotter that Thompson watched growing up.

After being slightly “overshadowed” last season as a freshman by teammate Kalib LaCount, who is now a guard for East Carolina, Thompson made big strides with his ball handling over the summer, Webster said.

“He’s become more confident and comfortable with the ball,” Webster said. “And then of course the DNA shows, man. … Maybe player of the year in this league.”

Thompson was helped on Friday by LaCount’s brother Jacob and older Josh Rivas, who struck in time, as well as a hard rebound from junior Sadiq Henry. The Golden Eagles are a much more dangerous team than their 14-14 record would suggest: King/Drew had a tough schedule, losing games to strong Southern Section programs like Sierra Canyon, Damien and Village Christian.

The Golden Eagles were perhaps the sleeping giant of the City Section, asleep after a season in which they felt overlooked, roused furiously by a merry post-game celebration when members of the school’s football team formed an impromptu dance circle in the stands.

“Our guys don’t feel like they’re getting the respect they should be getting — that toughened them up,” Webster said. King/Drew defeats Crenshaw for Coliseum League championship

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