The Times West Virginian

Sports

February 20, 2013

FSU’s Thornton saves his best for final year

FAIRMONT — Fairmont State men’s basketball standout Isaac Thornton has started every game in his four-year career except for one.

His best friend Mark has been there after every game telling him his positives and negatives of the game.

“He tells me exactly what I did even if I don’t want to hear it,” Thornton said.

During Saturday’s 103-99 loss to No. 3 West Liberty, Thornton started getting a bad cramp in his abdomen. His best friend was there to tell him to suck it up.

“It was probably the worst cramp I’ve ever had,” he said. “He told me I had to fight through it; it’s part of the game.”

Fighting through that pain led Thornton to score a career-high and conference season-high 44 points and add 10 rebounds. This performance, along with his 12 points and 12 rebounds during the victory over Pitt-Johnston and 21 points against Alderson-Broaddus, earned him WVIAC Player of Week honors on Monday.

When Thornton was young, baseball was his favorite sport. He was pitcher and an outfielder until his father told him about basketball.

“My dad introduced me to basketball, and I feel in love with it,” he said.

Nights before game days, Thornton enjoys eating pasta, including macaroni and cheese, but his favorite food is steak. The day of a game there’s one routine Thornton has to do — take a shower.

“I have to take a shower before the game,” he said. “That’s the main thing.”

For home games, after shoot-around with the team, Thornton goes home and washes his basketball clothes then takes a shower.

“Then just listen to music until it’s time to come up here and get ready,” he said.

When Thornton isn’t playing basketball for the Falcons, he can be found working toward his criminal justice degree. On his free time, Thornton still plays basketball just in a different way.

“Basically the main thing I like to do is play NBA 2K on XBOX,” he said.

In high school, Thornton knew he wanted to play basketball in college and looked at different schools including some Division I schools, but in the end FSU was the best fit.

“I really liked the campus,” he said. “Coach (Tim) Murphy was who recruited me and that’s what made me come here.”

The senior guard said these past four years have gone by fast and with only a few games left, he feels bittersweet.

“I can’t believe it,” Thornton said. “I had a great career here and everybody supported me so I’m just excited.”

Over the past four years Thornton has learned a lot about himself and working with teammates. He knows that being a leader comes with having to know each teammate’s personality.

“You have to know certain people’s personalities and how they react,” he said. “That’s what I’ve learned the most.”

On the court Thornton is known as more than just a scorer; he’s a leader. Head coach Jerrod Calhoun said the senior is the vocal leader on the team.

“If we need him to step up and say a few things, he’s an extention of me,” Calhoun said.

Calhoun has recalled many games where Thornton’s efforts have stuck out, and these past few games are only a few.

“He’s really been on a roll of late,” Calhoun said. “This year I think he’s one of the best players in this conference.”

Even with 18 wins on the season and 6 losses, the loss to West Liberty on Saturday is the game that sticks out to Thornton because the Hilltoppers were ranked No. 3 in the nation and he played his best game of his career.

Another game that stands our in his head is from his freshman year when the team took on Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the NCAA Tournament.

“They were the No. 2 team in the country and we were the eighth seed I believe,” Thornton said. “We lost by four; we were supposed to get blown out.”

Thornton’s main goal now is to help the Falcons win a conference tournament championship and make an apparence at the NCAA Division II Tournament.

“We took a tough one last game but we just have to bounce back,” he said. “Stay positive and we’ll be OK.”

The Falcons will travel to Seton Hill on Thursday and finish up the regular season on Saturday with a home game against Ohio Valley.

Out of the last four years of basketball Thornton will remember having great coaches and teammates.

“Just a lot of people that supported me that have kept me on a straight path,” he said.

Email Emily Gallagher at egallagher@timeswv.com of follow her on Twitter@EGallagherTWV.

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