|Horn Lake senior forward Alexyse Thomas (right) is the Guaranty Bank and Trust Company Athlete of the Week. She is joined by Lady Eagles' head coach Janna Thompson.|
This week's Guaranty Bank and Trust Athlete of the Week already has a state championship ring on her finger and would certainly like to add another one on her hand before heading off to play Division I college basketball next year.
|"I had the opportunity to speak to Alexyse after a game. She let me take a picture of her state championship ring. Nice!." -Patosha|
Alexyse Thomas of the defending MHSAA 6A state champion Horn Lake Lady Eagles and the 6-foot-2 inch center of which much of the offense revolves around, has come up with big games at important times in her team's march back to the Big House at Mississippi Coliseum.
The latest of those big games came last Saturday, when the Eagles reached this year's state quarterfinal round with a 46-40 victory over the Lady Wave on Tupelo's home floor.
Thomas was a force that could not be stopped for Horn Lake in the win, netting 19 points and grabbing 16 rebounds.
Alexyse added 14 more points in a 52-31 first-round playoff victory over Greenville that set up last Saturday's matchup with Tupelo.
Thomas feels her size and basketball savvy has served her well.
"I've always been bigger than everybody else," Thomas said. "I've been playing since seventh grade. I also play volleyball and I played softball until 10th grade."
Her coach, Janna Thompson, said Thomas is a great leader on the floor for the Lady Eagles.
"Alexyse has a great basketball IQ," Thompson said. "She is a vocal leader on the floor and she knows what to do with the basketball."
Thompson added Thomas has also put in some hard work to make her one of the top players to watch in Mississippi girls' basketball.
"This year, Alexyse has been serious about elevating her game to the next level," Thompson said. "In big games this year she has really stepped up her game. She's been very consistent for us."
Her basketball talent got the attention of a number of colleges, including Wright State, where she will play Division I ball next season for coach Mike Bradbury. The fifth-year coach at the Dayton, Ohio school recently won his 100th career coaching victory with the Raiders, as his team readied for postseason play in the Horizon League conference tournament.
But the future is now for Thomas and the Lady Eagles as they open state tournament play tonight at 6 p.m. in Jackson against Terry, a team Thompson said has some height that Thomas will have to contend with.
Thomas won't be using last year's state championship win over Olive Branch as a means of inspiration against the Bulldogs. She has a longer memory than just one year.
"We're looking for redemption from two years ago when we were blown out by Forest Hill," Thomas said, referring to Horn Lake's 57-37 loss in the semifinals to the eventual state champs in 2013.