MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — Following a 24-point effort in Friday's season opening win, Miles Thomas put together a career night Saturday in leading Walters State to a 111-84 rout of Combine Academy to close out the Walters State Senators Tip-Off Classic inside 'Z' Buda Gymnasium and Assembly Hall.
Thomas gunned in 38 points, easily setting a new career-high, leading five players in double figures for the homestanding Senators (2-0) as they crossed the century mark in the contest a night after finishing a point shy of the mark in the opening won over Caldwell.
Paris Taylor recorded a double-double and set new career-highs for points and rebounds with 16 each in the win, while Demontay Dixon and Deontae Davis both added 14 points and Kajuan Hale added 11 points and 13 assists, a new career-best, for his own double-double in the win.
Thomas had a big first half, scoring 20 points and getting to the rim with ease throughout his 17 minutes played in the opening frame. Combine had no answers for the South-Doyle product, as he was 8 of 11 shooting, including a 3-pointer and a dunk that gave Walters State a 42-21 lead with 5:40 left in the half.
Despite Thomas having a career effort in the half, Combine did not go away quietly, and Kyree Brown made sure of it by hitting all five of his 3-point attempts in the half to keep the visitors within striking distance. Elijah Smith nailed three free throws in the closing seconds of the half to make it a 49-40 deficit at the halftime break.
The Senators shot 51.4 percent (19 of 37) from the field in the opening half, making 3 of 7 from long range and 8 of 11 at the free throw line. Thomas led WSCC in scoring, with Kajuan Hale adding 9 points and Paris Taylor tossing in 6 points and grabbing 9 rebounds in the frame. The Senators held a 25-12 edge on the glass in the first half.
Combine shot 35.3 percent (12 of 34) in the half but made 9 of 17 from downtown and 7 of 9 at the foul line. Brown had 17 points, while Smith added 9 and Shakim Jenks had 8 in the opening canto to lead the visitors.
Combine wasted little time cutting further into the lead, as a 3-pointer from Reece McDonald and a steal and layup for Jenks helped pull the visitors within a point at 58-57 with the clock ticking towards the 15-minute mark of the second half.
As quickly as the Senators saw their lead slip away, they responded even quicker to extend the lead back to 68-57, as Paris Taylor and Thomas scored in between three baskets by Demontay Dixon to give WSCC some breathing room with 12:32 left in the contest. Thomas added back-to-back baskets, including an alley-oop dunk, and threw down another dunk moments later in a 16-3 run to increase the lead to 74-60 nearing the midway point of the second frame.
The Senators never let their foot off the pedal after that, with Thomas and Dixon leading the way for much of the homestretch. Thomas laid in a putback layup with 4:44 left in the game to push the Senators to the century mark, and the lead didn't dip below 24 the remainder of the game.
Walters State shot 47.8 percent (43 of 90) in the contest, making 6 of 16 from long range and 19 of 26 at the charity stripe. The Senators won the battle on the glass, 62-23, recording more offensive rebounds (27) than Combine had total rebounds, and they scored 27 points off 14 turnovers by the visitors.
Combine made just 38.2 percent (26 of 68) from the field in the contest, but they were highly efficient from long distance, hitting 17 of 37 attempts. Brown paced the visitors with 25 points, while Smith added 22, Jenks had 16 and McDonald ended up with 11 in the defeat.
The Senators will be back on the home hardwood Wednesday night with an 8 p.m. showdown against Spartanburg Methodist.