Hancock's Matt Thompson drew a foul at the basket, defended by Sleepy Eye St. Mary's Kaleb Wait, left, and Jacob Lux, in the first half Wednesday at Target Center. Photo: ELIZABETH FLORES • email@example.com
Ordinary footwear does nothing for Hancock junior basketball standout Matt Thompson. Throughout the Owls’ eight-game winning streak, the 6-7 forward donned purple Adidas. Size 15.
“I’ve never liked plain shoes,” Thompson said. “I like to throw a little spice into it.”
He played with flair Wednesday in the Class 1A tournament semifinal, a 65-53 comeback victory against Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s at Target Center. Behind Thompson’s 20 points and 19 rebounds, Hancock (19-5) advanced to play Hayfield (20-4) in the championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Local media refers to the big man as Matt “Mismatch” Thompson because of the different neon shoes he wore before switching to purple.
Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s (20-4) discovered the nickname owes to much more than flamboyant footwear. Easily the tallest player on the floor, Thompson used his size, strength and quickness to challenge the Knights.
“He was the reason we couldn’t play man defense,” Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s coach Judd Walter said.
Switching to a 2-3 zone helped the Knights (20-4) build a 34-29 halftime lead. They shot 62% from the field and received points from all five starters.
But Hancock snapped the Knights’ 10-game winning streak by holding them to only 19 points in the second half. Sophomore guard Kaleb Wait led with 19 points in a losing effort.
“Our defensive pressure went to another level,” Owls coach Cory Bedel said.
Hancock overcame a halftime deficit in a 65-53 victory against Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s in the first Class 1A semifinal Wednesday at the Target Center.
The Owls (19-5) advance to play in the championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday. They previously won a state title in 1997.
Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s (20-4) led 34-29 at halftime. The Knights shot well and enjoyed balanced scoring in the first half. And a switch to a zone defense frustrated Hancock.
But the Owls regrouped in the second half, playing great defense and scoring inside. Junior Matt Thompson led Hancock with 20 points and 19 rebounds. The Knights’ leading scorer was Kaleb Wait with 19 points.
Check back later for more on the game.