First year head coach Billy Hahn of La Salle got a little extra love on Valentine's Day. La Salle signee Jermaine Thomas singed the net for 36 points as his Thomas Johnson High School (Frederick, MD) topped Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, MD) 73-53 in the opening round of the Twenty-Ninth St. James Invitational Tournament Thursday at St. James's Alumni Hall in the Hagerstown, MD, area.
The only thing that seemed to stop Thomas in the first half was the third foul assessed on him at 5:07 of the second quarter. That put him on the bench until the final minute of the half.
Thomas hit for 19 points in the first quarter as TJ doubled Riverdale 28-14. That third foul slowed the nearby Frederick school but they were still able to extend the lead to 43-27 at the break. Then it was 58-39 as the third quarter ended.
Thomas hit threes, calmly and dramatically dunked the ball, threaded some amazing passes to teammates for layups and made all but one of his eight free throw attempts. No one else hit double figures, but Thomas' offensive display more than made up for that.
Riverdale was led by junior power forward Sheray Thomas' 14 points. This Thomas had scored 30 points on Tuesday in Riverdale's 77-61 win over Tacoma Academy. Sophomore swingman Brian Hodges added 11 points, including a perfect seven free throws.
Thomas Johnson will meet Montrose Christian in the tournament semifinals Friday night at 7:00 pm. Riverdale will take on St. John's at Prospect Hall in the preceding game with the tipoff scheduled for 5:30 pm.