SPRINGFIELD – The Thurston Colts boys basketball team handled their cross-town rival Springfield 57-41 Tuesday night in a Midwestern League matchup at Thurston. The Colts used a balanced scoring attack and solid team defense to secure the win.
“You always want to get a W, especially against Springfield. I thought those kids over there played their butts off and played hard. And I thought our kids played hard, too,” said Blaine Liberatore, Thurston coach. “I was really happy with how hard our guys played, and how much energy they played with. And the crowd was great. It was a fun atmosphere. All in all, happy with our performance.”
Thurston started out hot thanks to 10 first-quarter points by sophomore Nate Stiffler, taking an 18-9 lead after the initial quarter. Junior Walker Bonar, the team’s leading scorer on the season, took over in the second quarter with some tough drives and finishes. The Colts led 29-18 going into half with Stiffler and Bonar both having 10 points at the break. Stiffler and Bonar’s first-half scoring illustrated something that Liberatore believes is special about this team.
“We have three or four guys every single night that can go put up double digits, and you just never know who it’s going to be. Our greatest strength is the fact that it can be anybody, any night. And that’s hard to game plan for if you’re another team,” he said.
A back-and-forth third quarter that saw Thurston’s lead as small as 9 and as large as 18 ended with the Colts up 44-30. Thurston did enough to keep Springfield at bay in the final frame and finished the game with the 57-41 victory. Walker Bonar led Thurston with 16 points and Nate Stiffler chipped in 13, while Isaiah Navarrete led Springfield with 14 points.
The win moved Thurston, currently ranked #13 in Class 5A, to 9-8 on the season and 2-3 in Midwestern League play. Springfield fell to 2-12 and 0-5. The win inched Thurston, currently fifth in the MWL standings, closer to the team’s ultimate goal this season.
“The goal is definitely to make the state playoffs. We have this little four-game stretch at home starting tonight. So we have Springfield here and then we have Crater, Ashland, and Churchill all at home,” Liberatore said. “I think there’s a bunch of evenly matched teams in our league. We have four straight home games, starting tonight. This is a huge stretch in our season if we want to end up in the state playoffs.”