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A Bushel of Buckets: Rivendell Senior Passes 1,000 Points

  • Rivendell's Riley Thomson, center, is embraced by her teammates after scoring her 1001 point during a game with South Royalton in Orford, N.H., on Jan. 30, 2018. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not bereprinted or used online without permission. Send requests topermission@vnews.com.

  • Fans at Rivendell Academy celebrate Riley Thomson's 1,000th point during a game in Orford, N.H., on Jan. 30, 2018. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not bereprinted or used online without permission. Send requests topermission@vnews.com.

  • South Royalton's Macey Carbino looks for an outlet with Rivendell's Leah Rutherford on her during their game in Orford, N.H., on Jan. 30, 2018. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not bereprinted or used online without permission. Send requests topermission@vnews.com.

  • Rivendell's Mikayla Stever and South Royalton's Kylie Hebard move down the court during their game in Orford, N.H., on Jan. 30. 2018. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not bereprinted or used online without permission. Send requests topermission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Orford — Needing only six points to reach 1,000 for her career helped tame the pre-game nerves for Riley Thomson heading into Tuesday night’s game against South Royalton. Her quick-trigger release ensured she wouldn’t need long to get there.

Showcasing the versatile scoring range that has become her staple, Thomson made two of her first four shots — the second basket coming off of her own steal and fast-break layup — then swished a 3-pointer from the corner, as though adding a point for emphasis, eclipsing the milestone less than 2½ minutes into the Raptors’ 49-8 win.

Rivendell’s packed gym, which witnessed its first 1,000-point scorer since Lacey Stever in 2013, gave roaring approval as the game was halted to recognize the feat. Raptors coach Hank Tenney took a microphone to center court, introducing Thomson’s parents, Dean Thomson and Gayle Balcom, as well as other 1,000-point scorers in attendance from both Rivendell and its predecessor, Orford High.

One of the latter was Becca Wagstaff, a 1992 Orford graduate and Riley’s aunt, who coached her at Piermont Village School.

“Even back then, she showed she could handle the ball well, and she’s worked really hard on her shooting,” Wagstaff said. “She can work the whole floor, inside and outside. I kind of had a feeling we might be celebrating this kind of night with her.”

Many of Thomson’s family members and friends brought her carnations or roses during the ceremony, and after the game, teammate and senior classmate Mikayla DeBois presented her with balloons and treats.

“She deserves all of it,” DeBois said. “I’ve been with her for all of the points, so it’s special for me, too, to see it. I know that she worked her butt off to make it happen.”

The appreciation was reciprocated by Thomson.

“It takes a lot of people for someone to score 1,000 points,” she said. “There is no way I would have done it without teammates like Mikayla getting me the ball and Coach designing plays that put me in position to score. That’s the way it’s been for four years, so I owe a lot to them.”

Tenney has been happy to oblige. After all, Thomson’s dedication and skills are a big reason why the Raptors are 51-24 (.680) since the start of the 2014-15 season.

“What Riley brings to the table is that she can shoot the 3, but she can also post up,” Tenney said. “You can’t let your guard down if you’re trying to defend her, and she draws a lot of (opponents’) big girls to the outside.”

Thomson sank four 3-pointers as part of a game-high 22 points as the Raptors improved to 10-2 in their first game since Jan. 18. A scheduled game on Jan. 22 against Stowe was postponed due to icy weather.

The long layover didn’t appear to affect Rivendell against the undermanned Royals (0-10), who were without senior and leading scorer Iris Hudson (illness). The program’s only other senior, Grace Pease, is out with a knee injury.

Still, the youthful Royals lacked competitive zeal while being outscored 30-1 in the first half.

“We had a discussion about that at halftime, because we did not come out ready to play tonight,” said South Royalton coach Dave Davis, whose program has no junior varsity team and lists six freshmen and five sophomores during its final season before this summer’s school-district merger with Bethel.

“It’s a really young team, and I think we were caught up in the festivities,” Davis added. “None of these girls have ever been in a building where someone reached 1,000 points, and I think we were here to watch Riley Thomson instead of compete.”

South Royalton was more game in the second half, even owning a rebounding advantage. But the Royals had 16 of their 31 turnovers in the second half as Rivendell led by as many as 43 points.

DeBois finished with 11 points, five assists and four steals, while freshman Mikayla Stever had nine steals and four assists and junior Leah Rutherford nabbed five steals and five assists.

Tenney knows it will take contributions from more than Thomson and DeBois if the Raptors are to contend for a deep playoff run. Rivendell, which plays in Vermont Division III, hasn’t been past the quarterfinals since 2011.

“We’re always trying to get a lot of the girls involved, and (Stever and Rutherford) played really good games tonight,” Tenney said. “That’s what we’re going to need.”

Free Throws: Another of Thomson’s aunts, Cynthia Thomson Robinson, scored more than 2,500 points at Orford High. A Colorado resident, she was in the area for the scheduled game against Stowe, but could not be there on Tuesday. … Davis is a former Tenney assistant with the AAU Stateline Jammers. … South Royalton freshmen Nicole Smith (eight rebounds) and Hannah White (six rebounds) were both active on the boards. … During a timeout, Rivendell athletic director Ross Convertino announced a happy 80th birthday to longtime Raptors supporter Leonard Dugdale.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.