One thing is for sure, April Thomas is confident.
After scoring just two points in the first half and going just one for three, the explosive 5-6 guard erupted in the second half for 14 of VSU’s 24 total points in the period.
Most importantly, she knocked down two key three pointers back to back when her team needed them the most. One of which with 1:48 left to put her team up 53-48, then another with 21 seconds left to put her team up 56-51.
Both threes came from the same spot, too— the left corner.
“Those are shots I’ve been practicing since I’ve been playing basketball,” Thomas said.
Her performance was good enough to help outlast Shorter (6-18) 48-43 in the P.E. Complex.
“Sometimes they fall, and sometimes they don’t fall. You just have to have to have that confidence in yourself. And I have a lot of confidence in myself. But I can’t express how it feels… my teammates have so much confidence in my— whether I’m 0-10, or whether I’m 5-5.”
Thomas—a reliable three point shooter for Valdosta State (11-13) this season- made just 9-32 three pointers upon entering Saturday’s game. So, with the Shorter being the final home game as well as senior night, it’s fair to say that Thomas picked a good night to fall out of her recent slump.
“I try not to worry about those bad games. They come and they go. I still just try to play the next game,” Thomas said.
As a team, VSU played a well fought game. Though the score was low and VSU having several chances to pull away for good in the second half, they never let up.
“I’ve trying to go with a mantra— ‘we got to work smarter, not harder,” head coach Kiley Hill said.
Looking at the team box score, VSU executed both well. They forced SU to just 35 percent shooting on the night, and forced the Eagles into committing a total of 18 turnovers.
VSU had a six rebound advantage on the offensive glass, not to mention VSU had several players diving on the floor, on the ball, coming up with several 50/50 balls which coaches preach so often about.
Though SU joins VSU near the bottom of the GSC, the win should serve as a confidence booster for VSU with one final road trip before the conference tournament.
Injury has plagued the team the entire season, with seniors Melissa Johnson, Ivana Domjianovic, and junior Maggie Davis all currently sidelined. “We’re banged up big-time,” Hill said. Aside from injury, VSU has succumbed losses nearly every way possible in the past few weeks— a close loss to No. 18 in the country Delta State University, a blowout loss to University of West Florida, or a buzzer beater loss to University of West Georgia “I definitely feel like it’s a confidence thing tonight. And anytime you get a win it builds confidence.
And going into Thursday’s game against Delta (State)— I really feel like we can beat them. Like I said earlier in the beginning of the season— I honestly think that we can beat any team,” Thomas said.
That game will be at Delta State, and it would make for quite a statement if Thomas proves right and VSU comes out with a win against a very talented Lady Statesmen basketball squad. “You really just have to play with confidence. It all comes down to confidence really, to me… confidence from self, confidence from teammates, and in your teammates. It’s just confidence,” Thomas said.
This article was written by Neil Frawley.