OCH Regional Medical Center Athlete of the Week: Thompson

Kirsten Thompson
Staff Writer

Following defeat in the Class 6A State championship game of 2017 against Olive Branch, the Starkville Lady Yellowjackets had reason to be excited about the year to come.

The Lady Jackets returned most of their roster from the squad and had three talented and experienced guards in Jalisa Outlaw, Jariyah Covington and Tabreea Gandy salivating at the opportunity at redemption. There was one giant hole to fill, however, in the form of All-State center and Southern Miss signee Kelsey Jones as she walked out of the Mississippi Coliseum in her final game as a Lady Jacket.

In stepped Kirsten Thompson, who was a player ready for the challenge.

With Jones in foul trouble in most of that game a year ago, Thompson got experience that would be invaluable. It allowed her to walk into the Big House for another shot this year and she shined as bright as the smile on her face.

Thompson put on a performance to remember in SHS’ triumphant 46-27 win over Murrah for the championship win. She had 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting, made 5-of-6 free throws, pulled down seven rebounds and blocked three shots in 30 minutes.

“This was my best game ever,” a gleaming Thompson said post game. “I just had a goal to bring that gold ball home. I was going to do anything to achieve that goal.”

On top of being the OCH Regional Health Center’s Athlete of the Week, Thompson was chosen the Most Valuable Player in the game shortly after the contest finished. One of the most satisfying awards she received was the CSpire Scholar Athlete of the Game for having the highest grade point average and ACT score from either team.

While her point total didn’t quite exceed her ACT score, she dominated in the low post from start to finish.

“It just started happening for me,” Thompson said. “Once I started off good, that kept the energy up and got my confidence up as well.”

This wasn’t a new development for coach Kristie Williams. She knew what she had in Thompson for the last couple of years, but the big shadow cast by Jones was a hard one to step out of last season.

When she got her chance to contribute, Thompson did it. Most importantly, she did it on the biggest stage of it all in her final game.

Williams couldn’t have been more proud of her quiet, yet productive senior leader.

“She has been stepping up this entire season, no matter who the defender was or who she had to defend on the opposite end,” Williams said. “She gave us her best. To have her be the player of the game and the scholar athlete of the game, that’s just icing on the cake for her because she has worked really, really hard for this moment.

“Kirsten has been in the shadows of Kelsey Jones these last few years. She battled with Kelsey and it’s paid off.”