NORTH MUSKEGON – Camden Thompson was a hard guy to keep track of Friday night.
After North Muskegon struggled to keep the 6-foot-4 Whitehall freshman off the boards and from filling the scorebook, multiple media members missed him following the visiting Vikings’ 69-61 victory over the Norsemen.
Thompson’s monster game of 32 points, 18 rebounds, two blocks, one assist and one steal in the CatchMark SportsNet Game of the Week kept Whitehall tied atop the West Michigan Conference standings with Ravenna, both at 8-4 overall and 7-2 in the league.
Thompson’s performance in an ear-splitting environment at North Muskegon’s old-school, cozy barn of a gym earned him a good postgame soak in his neighbor’s hot tub.
That’s where his neighbor, Tim Stoudt, found him when he arrived home Friday night. Thompson and Stoudt’s son, Abram, are classmates and good friends.
“It felt really great, just sitting in there, just thinking back to the game and what not,” Thompson said in a phone interview with CatchMark Saturday morning.
No rest for the weary. This morning, Thompson was scheduled to officiate youth basketball at the Viking Athletic Center in Whitehall.
It was a big week for the Vikings, who earned two crucial road wins over conference-title contenders. On Tuesday, Whitehall avenged an earlier 25-point loss to Ravenna by collecting a 55-41 victory. Thompson also notched a double-double against the Bulldogs, finishing with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
The wiry, springy, athletic and poised Thompson has made a world of difference for the Vikings after he missed their first five games with an ankle injury. With him in the lineup, Whitehall is 6-1 overall.
“We knew what we had to do – we talked about it, we worked on it … like, we just could not keep him off the glass. We couldn’t keep him off the glass at all early, and then when I thought we defended him pretty well, well then he contorts himself and he’s leaning this way with his body and he’s banking it in on the back side,” North Muskegon coach Chuck Rypstra said as he twisted his body mimicking Thompson’s moves around the basket.
“We just don’t have a guy like that. I mean, he’s just going to be a load. I mean, he’s already, right? He’s already arguably one of the best players in the league. Just think where he’s going to go. We’re getting out of (Whitehall’s division in the conference), so that might be a good thing for us,” Rypstra quipped.
Thompson’s points and rebounds Friday were career highs, but he’s just getting started. In last Friday’s 67-54 win at Mason County Central, he totaled 18 points and seven points in the first quarter alone.
On the season, he’s averaging 18.3 points and 12.7 rebounds to go with 1.6 assists and 1.6 blocks. He can score from anywhere on the floor and, as previously reference, he’s a menace on the glass.
In 31 minutes Friday against North Muskegon, Thompson was 13-of-22 from the floor, 1-for-2 from 3-point range and 5-of-11 from the free-throw line.
“I mean, like I said last week, he’s getting better,” Whitehall coach Christian Subdon said. “I’m telling all the kids about, ‘It’s loud in this gym.’ It’s crazy how loud it is and he’s like, ‘I know.’ He’s like, ‘I’m ready.’ And he’s friends with James Young. I asked him before the game, ‘Are you guys friends or are you guys against each other?’ He’s like, ‘Oh, no, I’m going after him.’ And James is a great kid and Cam, holy cow, he was special.”
Young finished with nine points. Troy McManus led North Muskegon with 19 points, while Sam Gallo scored 12.
Brodie Fogus returned to the lineup for Whitehall Friday after missing the previous two games with an ankle injury. He made an immediate impact with eight points, three rebounds and a block.
Photos by Scott DeCamp and Zach Zweigle | CatchMark
Senior point guard Red Watson delivered seven points, five rebounds and three assists, while senior sharpshooter Isaac DeHart hit a couple of 3s for six points. Freshman Kal Koehler was a presence down low with seven rebounds. Junior Nate Bolley continued to pester the opponent’s top scorer with his sticky defense, making McManus tough shots just like he did to Ravenna’s Kyle Beebe on Tuesday.
But, clearly, Whitehall is a different team with Thompson on the floor.
As Rypstra described, Thompson just has a knack for securing rebounds in traffic and contorting his body while staying under control so he can softly put the ball off the glass.
“I’ve worked on that a while,” Thompson said. “It’s tough, but I’ve played a lot of rec and pick-up games and I’m just always working on getting that quick shot off. I’m just trying to get it up so I don’t get blocked by taller players. I find it really useful to get that shot up before they can react.”
Whitehall went 2-3 with Thompson on the bench with his right ankle injury. It killed him to have to sit and watch for four weeks.
He admittedly hates losing and so badly wanted to be on the floor to help his teammates. Nights like Friday make it worth the wait.
“It was loud, really loud. It was hard to, like, hear the plays and what not and what was going on,” Thompson said. “But it was fun – it was really fun. It’s really fun to walk out of there with a win because of how loud it really was.
“It feels pretty good (to win on the road), like going in there in that loud gym and doing it. Overall, we’ve just got to keep winning if we want to win conference.”
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