LIMA — Lima Senior’s Rion Thompson wasn’t sure what to expect as a freshman.
She was coming over from St. Rose and was hoping to land on the varsity basketball team.
Now, four years later, Thompson started all 97 games in her four-year varsity career. She also became the girls all-time leading scorer.
Today Thompson was named The Lima News’ girls basketball Dream Team player of the year.
Ottawa-Glandorf coach Troy Yant was named the girls basketball coach of the year. He guided the Titans (26-3) to the state championship game before they lost to Kettering Alter.
The Titans placed two players on the Dream Team, Kadie Hempfling and Kylie White. Thompson’s teammate and fellow senior, Essence Cowan, joined her on the team. Rounding out the team were Brittanie Ulmer (Bath), Jade Clement (Columbus Grove), Emily Bauer (Crestview), Madison Stolly (Lima Central Catholic), Bridgit Landin (Ottoville) and Megan Fisher (Wapakoneta).
As a senior, the 5-foot-9 Thompson averaged 26.5 points and 8.3 rebounds for the 15-9 Spartans (8-6 Three Rivers Athletic Conference). She finished her career with a girls school record 1,901 career points.
Thompson also set the girls basketball single-game scoring record of 46 points in a 92-51 victory over Celina on Feb. 1 at Lima Senior. The school’s previous single-game scoring record of 44 points was set by Chris Stump during the 1977-78 season.
She was named first team all-Three Rivers Athletic Conference, first team all-district, the district player of the year and first team all-state.
“I first saw her in the seventh grade and was going to St. Rose, but in the eighth grade I heard she was coming to Lima Senior,” Lima Senior girls basketball coach Vince Halliday said. “I knew then she would be a big-time player for us. She got here and we were real excited. From Day 1, I put her in the starting lineup.”
Thompson said, “When I came over to Lima Senior, I was brand new and didn’t know what it was looking like. I felt I would be a JV starter and maybe dress varsity. I never thought I would start varsity.”
But on opening night, there was Thompson’s name up on the starting-lineup board in the locker room.
“I was kind of shocked,” she said. “It was against Columbus Grove at home and I had 13 points and hit two 3-pointers. I’ll probably never forget that game. There was so much emotion and nerves.”
She went on to start every varsity game for the next four years.
“The biggest thing was her consistency,” Halliday said. “I can’t think of her even missing a practice in four years. That’s not very common. She never got hurt and never got sick.”
Thompson ended up averaging 10 points her freshman year.
Her game also evolved over the years, going from the team’s number-three scoring option as a freshman behind Indiya Benjamin and Stacia Allen, to being the team’s leader the final two years.
As a sophomore, she averaged 20 points and had a shooting role with point guard Benjamin driving the lane and finding her open for a jumper on the wing. The Spartans went 20-5 that season.
“The last two years she’s been the No. 1 option and scoring became more difficult, with all the defenses focused on her,” Halliday said. “This year her game expanded. She was always a scorer on the wing, but with so many double-teams, we posted her up more. And she was able to put the ball on the floor more.”
Along the way, there have been a number of memorable games, like the night she set the school record with 46 points or the night she broke the school career-scoring mark at Fremont Ross.
But Thompson quickly recalls the tournament wins.
“My freshman year we beat Findlay in the sectionals,” she said. “That was one of the most memorable games.”
Thompson plans to major in Marketing at Bowling Green State where she received a athletic scholarship.
This summer there are a couple of areas she’d like to improve her overall game.
“I’d like to become a lot stronger,” Thompson said. “I’d also like to improve my 3-point shot.”
Reach Tom Usher at email@example.com or on Twitter at @Lima_Usher