(T-G Photo by Gary Johnson)
The Eaglettes battled the Class 3A No. 5 ranked team Oakland to the end in a 50-43 loss in a non-district match up on Tuesday night.
Shelbyville fell 56-25 in the first meeting at home earlier in the year.
"We were looking forward to this game. Oakland is one of the top teams in the state and we really wanted to see how we would match up with them this time around," Thomas said. "There's no doubt we've improved and improved a lot. We battled till the end in this game and in the first game, we were never in it."
After falling behind 7-0, the Eaglettes closed out the first quarter with a 12-8 run, including seven unanswered points by sophomore To'Nesha Allison in the final minute.
The Eaglettes (10-12) continued to play well in the second stanza and took a 17-15 lead off a 3-point play by Bree Horner before trailing 25-21 at halftime.
Horner's 3-point basket at the 2:33 mark of the third quarter evened the score at 32-all, but the Eaglettes committed three straight turnovers that led to seven unanswered points -- giving the Lady Patriots a 39-32 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
Trailing by five points late, Shelbyville failed to scored on back-to-back possessions and that proved to be costly for the Eaglettes as Oakland (18-2) managed to hang on to claim a seven-point victory.
"We made a lot of little plays that really kept us in the game. We got some loose balls and tipped balls and just really battled," Thomas said. "Those turnovers that led to seven unanswered points at the end of the third quarter after we hit a three to tie the game really hurt us."
Ellen Riggins led the winners with 14 points while Ansley Eubank netted 12, including three 3-pointers while Emily Eubank contributed 11.
Junior Jameka Braden led Shelbyville with a game-high 17 points while Allison added nine and Horner eight.
The Eaglettes host District 8-AAA leading Columbia on Friday night at 6.
Shelbyville 12 9 11 11 -- 43
Oakland 15 10 14 11 -- 50
Shelbyville: Braden 17, Allison 9, Horner 8, McClenney 4, O. Calvert 3, H. Calvert 1, Doak 1.
Oakland: Riggins 14, A. Eubank 12, E. Eubank 11, King 4, Oliver 3, House 2, Barns 2, Gibson 2.
3-point goals: Shelbyville (4): Braden 2, Horner 1, McClenney 1; Oakland (3): A. Eubank 3.
Halftime score: Oakland 25, Shelbyville 21.