The Dominion Post all-area basketball teams
Two in a row for Preston’s T.J. Thompson
BY ERIC HANLON The Dominion Post

The Preston High boys’ basketball team has been pretty special over the past two seasons. Perhaps the biggest reason for its success has been the play of junior T.J. Thompson, who has solidified himself as one of the state’s best shooters. This year, Thompson had his best season, averaging 20.4 points, five rebounds and four assists per game — more than enough for him to make The Dominion Post all-area team as Player of the Year. Joining Thompson on the team are Clay-Battelle senior Travis Holmes, Morgantown junior Sam Runner and Trinity’s dynamic duo, senior Josh Pearson and sophomore A.J. Mayle. It’s Thompson’s second consecutive The Dominion Post Player of the Year honor, but he would trade it in for a second chance to make states. “It’s nice, but the season is more important to me,” Thompson said. “I’d rather go to Charleston than win this award.” After missing states this season, Thompson will most likely work to further improve his game. But his improvements this year were hardly unnoticed: He was one of the state’s most dynamic scorers.
“I’ve got more consistent shooting,” Thompson said. “I practice all kinds of shots and drills so that I can do it in games, too.”
Oddly enough, Thompson doesn’t take too many shots, but he is so accurate, he has no problem scoring.
“His most impressive stat is that he was almost right on the nose, shooting 50 percent from the floor, and that’s including 3-pointers,” PHS head coach Barry Sanders said. “That’s pretty good for anyone, especially a high school player.”
That shooting percentage proves Thompson’s consistency, which allows him to thrive late in games.
“He never likes to lose,” Sanders said. “He always keeps playing and because of that, he had some pretty great fourth quarters for us.”
Thompson explained why.
“I try to play the same pace the whole game,” he said. “Some people get tired or careless in the fourth quarter, especially if they’re up, but I try to be the same no matter what, and that might explain it.”
The only other returning allarea player is Mayle, who burst onto the scene as a fantastic freshman.
“I remember before his freshman year, he told me that his goal was to start for my varsity team his freshman year, and I laughed at him,” TCS head coach Herman Pierson said. “But he really wanted it. His work ethic sets him apart.”
Mayle helped take Trinity to the state tournament again this year by contributing in all aspects of the game, averaging 17.3 points, 5.4 assists, 4.8 steals and 3.1 rebounds per contest. He also shot just under 50 percent from 3-point range.
As for Pearson, it was his improved perimeter shooting and his physical build that helped him step up his game.
“I told him that if he wanted to play in college, that he was going to need to improve his outside shooting --- and he did,” Pierson said. “He’s also physically much stronger. He’s a guy that not many people are going to stop oneon-one, and this year he can even dunk a ball. Last year he couldn’t do that, so that’s a nice new trick for him.”
Pearson led TCS with 18.2 ppg, while also contributing 4.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3.7 steals.
While Pearson led the Warriors in scoring, Holmes led the entire area and also finished as one of the state’s top scorers, averaging 25 ppg.
Although the Cee-Bees struggled this season, Holmes still thrived, recording over 25 points on 10 occasions while scoring a career-high 36 twice and tallying his 1,000th career point.
Holmes also has the work ethic all coaches wish their players had.
“He’s a good kid, with a great attitude, excellent fundamentals, and he’s always been the hardest worker on the team,” C-B head coach Frank Skubis said. “It’s always easier on a coach when the more experienced and talented kids are the hardest workers. He wants to be the first to finish the running drills, the first one back on defense. And you can be sure that he’s taken thousands of jump shots outside of practice. Thousands.”
Rounding out the all-area team is the Mohigans’ 6-foot-7 center, Runner, who showed big potential.
“We always anticipated that he’d be good,” MHS head coach Tom Yester said. “He has good hands and good touch, that’s the thing with Sam [Runner]. There are a lot of tall guys — well, not that tall in this area, but usually tall guys can’t catch and shoot the way Sam can.”
Runner ended the year averaging 12.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while also leading MHS in blocked shots. Plus, Runner shot nearly 60 percent from the floor.
“He was our most consistent player,” Yester said. “We could always count on him to score. We played a pretty good schedule, and he scored on just about everyone.”

Preston’s T.J. Thompson averaged 20.4 points, five rebounds and four assists per game. BOYS

A.J. Mayle Trinity Christian

Sam Runner Morgantown

Josh Pearson, Trinity Christian

Travis Holmes