Hannah Thompson figured an opportunity to play basketball wasn’t a certainty.

Having played for Tuscarora’s girls basketball team each of the past three years, it’s not as if Thompson lacked experience. But she planned on completing her schoolwork in January and then immediately beginning her college education at Frostburg State. So it wouldn’t have surprised Thompson if Titans coach Charlie Thomas would have frowned upon having someone take up a varsity roster spot and then stop playing midway through the season.

Thomas, however, saw so many positives in having Thompson on the team that he couldn’t deny her a chance to play.

“Hannah is a daughter that you dream of,” Thomas said of Thompson, who in her final home game scored a team-high 13 points Tuesday in the Titans’ 71-17 victory over South Hagerstown. “Man, the girl has so much charisma.

“She’s a leader, she’s always on time. She’s just a role model for these young girls.”

Entering the season, the Titans (6-3) had graduated two main cogs — Makaala Ambush and Chandler Stewart — from a team that advanced to the Class 3A West Region semifinals before falling to Frederick. So Thomas needed leadership from Thompson, who had long preferred having her actions speak for themselves.

In the fall, Titans girls soccer coach Troy Bowers asked Thompson to become more vocal.

“Usually, I’m the quiet one, but I feel like I’ve stepped up and been more vocal this season, which is kind of out of my comfort zone, but I knew it was for the best of the team,” said Thompson, who will play soccer at Frostburg. “That’s what Coach Thomas told me at the beginning of the year, that I need to be vocal and lead and prepare the girls for when I leave to fill my position.”

Thompson hit two of the Titans’ five 3-pointers in the first quarter as Tuscarora moved the ball crisply around the perimeter to get open shots and jumped out to a 26-3 lead. The Titans finished with 10 3s.

“At our last practice, we were working on moving the ball, making sure we were using ball fakes, quick passes and everything, so I think it definitely translated to the game,” said Thompson, who also collected five assists and five steals.

Junior guard Natalie Pryor hit four 3s, turning in what Thomas called her best shooting performance of the season to finish with 12 points. Milca Barou added 11 points, and Camille Martin had eight.

“I don’t usually take 3s that many times because I pass the ball — I don’t like to be a ball hog,” Pryor said. “Today my shot was on, so I took every shot I had the opportunity to take.”

Thompson said Pryor will be one of the players tasked to fill her shoes on a team Thomas said is still trying to find its identity.

“Chemistry is the main part that we’re learning, and we’ve definitely gotten a lot better as the games have gone on,” Thompson said. “[Thomas] talked about finding a core group. We’ve had so many different starting lineups, so we’re just trying to find the one [that will do well consistently].”

Before she starts taking classes at Frostburg on Jan. 27, Thompson will play in road games at Martinsburg, Middletown and Frederick.

“I’m excited to move on, but I’m definitely going to miss this,” she said.

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