Once the final basket counted and the last horn sounded, the celebration commenced.
The Thomson boys basketball team routed Harlem, 101-36, on Tuesday night to give coach Michael Thomas the 500th victory of his career.
“We had to get (100) for him,” said John Atkins, who had a game-best 17 points for Thomson.
It was obvious from the start that Thomas, who started his coaching career in 1982, wouldn’t need a second chance to get No. 500.
Thomson led by 16 after the first quarter and proceeded to score a combined 61 points in the second and third periods.
Later, after one of many Bulldog turnovers, Thomson got an easy score to surpass the 100-point mark.
After the win, McDuffie County Schools Superintendent Jim LeBrun announced that Wednesday would be Michael Thomas Day in Thomson.
The players joined in the honoring of Thomas by signing a basketball to commemorate the win and also by wearing white T-shirts made for the special occasion.
“It will be vindication,” Thomas said of the win. “We didn’t need it. But to others, especially outside the area, it’s a confirmation of doing it the right way.”
Thomas thanked current and past players, assistants, parents and fans for their support and involvement on the path to 500.
The most recent win came courtesy of 12 players recording a field goal, with five scoring in double-figures.
Along with forcing turnovers and racing down the floor, Thomson (13-1) dominated inside as Harlem (8-8) had no answer for the pressure.
Zavian Smith, a Thomson graduate and former player, was one of many of Thomas’ supporters in attendance.
“I appreciate everything he’s done for us,” Smith said. “He’s very committed, very dedicated. He deserves it.”
In the girls game, Thomson made quick work of Harlem, holding the visitors without a point for almost the first 15 minutes in the 54-12 romp. Aleisha Johnson lead Thomson with 13 points.
Harlem (3-13) didn’t score until Thomson (8-5) had already put up 36 points.
Two three-point plays by Brittany Reid in the first half only padded the already-huge advantage, with Harlem often ending possessions with turnovers instead of shots.