Katy High School, Tigers, Texas girls high school basketball, Allana Thompson, Katy ISD

Thompson works way to star for Tigers

By STEPHEN GREENWELL, Times Correspondent
Posted 1/27/20

For Katy High senior forward Allana Thompson, the Tigers’ 46-34 win against Taylor on Jan. 24 mirrored the evolution of her varsity career—a rugged start eventually giving way to a strong finish, from a player who wouldn’t be denied or deterred.

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Katy High School, Tigers, Texas girls high school basketball, Allana Thompson, Katy ISD

Thompson works way to star for Tigers

Posted

For Katy High senior forward Allana Thompson, the Tigers’ 46-34 win against Taylor on Jan. 24 mirrored the evolution of her varsity career—a rugged start eventually giving way to a strong finish, from a player who wouldn’t be denied or deterred.

Thompson finished with 12 points, second on the team behind 15 points from Aubrey Ridenhour, as the junior forward got wide open looks from the corner as the defense collapsed on her senior teammate. Thompson overcame a two-point first half to perform better in the second and help the Tigers start the second round of District 19-6A play with a win.

“I knew I wasn’t playing well, but Aubrey was hitting all of her shots, so I was trying to get the ball to her,” said Thompson, who finished six points below her district scoring average. “I know I wasn’t finishing well, so I was trying to get it to my teammates.”

Thompson had the single bucket in the first half as she didn’t get several foul calls on hard drives to the basket. However, she didn’t stop attacking, and her eight points in the fourth quarter, including two coast-to-coast layups she was fouled on, finally put a resilient Taylor team away.

According to Thompson and Katy coach Shanna Marhofer, her vision on the break and ability to finish are aspects of her game that she’s worked on during her years at the school.

“I’ve been finishing a lot better and I see the floor a lot better than I used to,” Thompson said. “I love giving my teammates the ball on fast breaks and giving them quick passes to finish. My shooting has gotten a lot better, but I’ve been focused on getting better taking contact.”

“She was getting hammered in finishing,” Marhofer said. “But she’s a tough kid, and she gets after it. She’s not going to shy away from contact or a double team, and she is one of the best passers we have on the team, if not the best passer.”

Next year, Thompson will suit up for NCAA Division I Prairie View A&M. Unlike a lot of collegiate prospects, though, she hasn’t been a day-one, four-year starter on varsity.

“When she came in, I really felt like one day she would be a huge contributor,” Marhofer said. “She was the stud for as long as she had played (on earlier teams), and then her freshman year she was playing behind a Division I player in Laura Rowe.”

Rowe, a 2017 graduate of Katy, played a year at Division I Abilene Christian before transferring to Division II Eastern New Mexico. Marhofer said Thompson didn’t back down from the challenge then.

“I told her, her freshman year, ‘You can play on JV and never come off the court, or you’re going to get a little bit of time on the varsity level and practice every day against one of the best players in our district, the MVP of our district,’” Marhofer said. “She chose to do that, and she pretty much hasn’t come off the floor since her sophomore year. I think that year was a huge developmental year for her. It was a hard year for her since she’s used to playing, but she got to sit and learn and watch.”

Facing a stiff challenge from an older player wasn’t a new concept for Thompson. She’s been playing the sport since she was three years old. Her father played professional basketball in Europe, and her older sister, J’nay Thompson, was a 2010 graduate of Mayde Creek and a second team All-District talent.

“My sister trained me a lot,” Thompson said. “She loves to keep me in the gym and keep me getting my shots up.”

Thompson added that her sister was also named Defensive Player of the Year.

“She beats me every time,” she said, laughing when asked about the one-on-one matchup. “She’s really, really quick, so she’s really helping me with my finishing.”

As the season continues and the Tigers go through the district for a second time, Thompson and Marhofer said a defensive focus would be important. Thompson is averaging 7.8 rebounds and three steals per game to go along with 18.3 points per game in district play.

“We’ve always been a team and a program that places an emphasis on that part of our game,” Marhofer said. “So much of what we do offensively comes from what we do on defense, getting stops, getting energy from that.”

Thompson finished the Taylor game with seven steals. As a team, the Tigers had 14.

“Our defense is really important, because it gives us a lot of intensity,” Thompson said. “Once we get those steals, we pick each other up a lot. Once we get that steal, we’re looking for each other and trying to finish on the fast break.”

If they can continue to generate offense off their defense, Thompson thought the second half of the year could surpass the first half for Katy, last year’s District 19-6A champions.

“We want to finish this second round undefeated,” she said. “I think we can do it as long as we play together and keep our intensity up, and go really hard in practice.”

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