Sophie Thompson needed just one point last Thursday to become the career scoring leader at Triad High School. There was no doubt she would set the record.
Still, the versatile 5-foot-10 senior was relieved when she eclipsed the former mark of 1,557 points, set by Amy Sarhage (formerly Gire) in 1985. So relieved was Thompson, in fact, that she went on to enjoy the best games of her career, a 34-point outburst in a 70-51 victory at Waterloo in which she was 11-for-21 from the field with four 3-pointers.
My 1,000 points (last season), I had no clue about. I wasn’t focused on this since my freshman year. My dad (Jack) was kind of like, ‘Oh, you’re getting close to the record.’ Then I started tracking it myself. The last 100 points, I was aware.
Senior Sophie Thompson on her pursuit of career scoring record at Triad
Thompson’s accomplishment has netted her the News-Democrat’s Athlete of the Week award.
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Setting the record “feels really good,” said Thompson, a Central Methodist recruit who has amassed 1,591 points and credits Sarhage for a good portion of her development. “I had her as my coach in middle school. She taught me a lot of stuff.”
Sarhage, who teaches at Silver Creek Elementary School in Troy, said she was pleased to see Thompson set the record.
“I have known Sophie for a long time,” she said. “She grew up right next door to my parents and she was always out shooting around in the driveway.
“Sophie is a very hard worker who fell in love with the game of basketball. I have always told the girls that I have coached at Triad Middle School that I hope someday one of them would break my scoring record. Sophie has really worked on her shot since middle school and on her off-the-ball skills, too. ... I couldn't be happier for her.”
Thompson said she hadn’t paid attention to the record until recently.
“My 1,000 points (last season), I had no clue about,” she said. “I wasn’t focused on this since my freshman year. My dad (Jack) was kind of like, ‘Oh, you’re getting close to the record.’ Then I started tracking it myself. The last 100 points, I was aware. But I’m mostly focused on my team winning, really, because I think we have a really good chance to go far this year.”
Thompson, a four-year starter, has helped build the Knights into a metro-east force. They were 23-3 in the regular season and tied rival Highland for the Mississippi Conference championship. In Thompson’s freshman year, Triad was 0-24 and scored 30 or fewer points 17 times.
This season, Thompson averages 20.6 points on her own.
Well, not exactly. Thompson fully credits her talented teammates for setting screens and getting the ball in her hands when she is in position to score.
“They get the ball up the court, get the ball in my hands, rebound, everything,” Thompson said.
Triad’s jump in production began in Thompson’s sophomore season when Josh Hunt took over as coach. The Knights were 10-17 that year, then improved to 19-9 last season.
“It was obviously devastating my freshman year,” Thompson said. “But Coach Hunt came in and brought us back to a really good team.”
Hunt has enjoyed watching Thompson elevate her game.
“She’s developed as a player, as a person, as a teammate. She’s done an incredible job,” Hunt said. “It goes to show you what hard work will do for you, and she’s put a lot of hard work into her game. I’m really proud of her and everything she’s accomplished. She deserves everything she’s received.”
Hunt said many of his other players are cut from Thompson’s mold.
“I’ve got some great girls on this team,” he said. “Coach (Bud) Vallino, who is my assistant and has been around for over 50 years of coaching, says this is the most tight-knit group he’s ever seen. We’ve got six girls that generally play, and those six girls, on and off the court, are the best of friends. You can tell the camaraderie.
“Our girls, there was no selfishness about it. They wanted Sophie to break this record, and I think that says a lot about her teammates.”
She’s developed as a player, as a person, as a teammate. She’s done an incredible job. It goes to show you what hard work will do for you, and she’s put a lot of hard work into her game. I’m really proud of her and everything she’s accomplished. She deserves everything she’s received.
Triad girls basketball coach Josh Hunt
What makes Thompson difficult for opponents to guard is her ability to score from anywhere on the floor. She has 66 3-pointers – and 166 in her career – is tall enough to collect putbacks and shoots 77 percent from the free-throw line (166-for-215). Her 215 free-throw attempts lead the St. Louis region.
“I can shoot 3s, I can post up, I can drive, I’m really good at free throws. So all that kind of helps me get the points I need,” Thompson said. “My freshman year, I was averaging like three points a game or something. It’s been really nice to learn new things and develop my game a lot.”
Thompson is looking forward to playing at Central Methodist, an NAIA Division I school located in Fayette, Mo., about 170 miles from Troy. The team is in the Heart of America Conference. This season, the Eagles are 22-2 overall and 17-1 in the league.
“My coach (Mike Davis) told me he wants me to shoot a lot and drive to the basket,” Thompson said. “So I think I’ll be pretty much the same player playing in the same spot. I love scoring and helping other people score. Defense is fun, too, but ... Scoring, that’s how you win games. That’s what makes it fun for me.”