Matt Thomas is Onalaska’s “Iceman” on the court

Some nicknames are given; the best ones are earned.

Onalaska junior guard Matt Thomas got his, the “Iceman,” after hitting so many clutch shots on the basketball court.

Onalaska senior Ben Socha says one moment stands out from Thomas’ freshman season.

“The Holmen game,” says Socha shaking his head.

“We played horrible the whole games and he pretty much willed us to win.”

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In that game Thomas hit the game-tying three pointer late, then hit 1-0f-2 free throws with no time left to win the game.

“He’s been “The Iceman” from there.”

The idea for that moniker came from senior forward Zac Schmidt.

“Kind of from Matt Ryan the quarterback of thr Atlanta Falcons,” recalls Thomas.  

“They call him ‘Matty Ice,’ so I kind of got the ‘Iceman’ from that.”

“It’s actually a pretty fitting,” says Onalaska Head Coach Craig Kowal who laughed after finding out the “Iceman” name was used on Thomas’ Twitter account.

“It seemd like the tougher the moment the better he plays and he just thrives in those situations.”

Thomas plays down the nickname a little when talking about stepping up in clutch moments.

“That’s just what all athletes like.” says Thomas.

“Toward the end of the game I like to have the ball in my hands and either make a play for myself or get a teammate open.”

Thomas is averaging 22.5 points a game for the top-ranked team in Division 2.  The Hilltoppers are 12-1 this season and unbeaten in the Mississippi Valley Conference.

Whether he’s scoring or making plays in the opening minutes or final seconds, you never see the expression chance on Thomas’ face, further validating the “Iceman” nickname.

“That’s what makes him so special,” says Kowal who says he can’t remember ever seeing Thomas flustered.

“If you are up 30 points and he’s shooting great, his mannerisms are the same as if we’re down and need a big bucket late.”

Socha says that attitude has caught on with others on the team as the Hilltoppers look to finally break through to the State Tournament this year after 3 straight seasons ending in the sectional finals.

“If anybody on our team is razzled or flustered or we’re down, you look at him and he’s calm,” adds Socha.  “he’s as calm as they get.

It’s even more impressive when you consider Thomas has Division 1 scholarship offers from about 10 different schools, including most recently the University of Wisconsin.

Kowal says Thomas handles all the distractions better than he could have at that age.

“He has an amazing focus and concentration level that is so rare in all people let alone someone that is 17-years-old.”

So what is the Thomas’ reaction to all the attention he’s getting from big colleges?  

“It’s cool.”

What else would you expect from the “Iceman?”