Starting a tough pre-holiday run of five games in six days, both Walker Valley hoops squads were able to notch double-digit wins over a pair of determined Lenoir City teams Monday evening.
Playing on their home court at “The Stable” for the only time this week, the Lady Mustangs had the “hot hand” in the varsity opener, sizzling the nylon at a 69 percent rate to break open a close game for a 64-54 victory.
“We had 19 team assists. Making that extra pass gave us better shot selection and helped out our shooting percentage,” declared Walker Valley coach Jessica Stone, whose “Fillies” sank 73 percent (16-of-22) from in front of the arc, plus 8-of-13 shots (62 percent) from beyond it.
In the nightcap, the Mustangs raced out to a 26-point halftime advantage and then held off a late challenge by the Panthers to post a 69-58 victory.
“We played great offense in the opening half, but Lenoir City was able to put more pressure on us and started making their shots in the second half,” expressed Walker Valley coach Bob Williams. “Keeping a big lead is something we’ve got to work on.”
Both Mustang squads will make the trip to always tough McMinn Central this evening, before heading in different directions for Christmas tournaments at the end of the week.
The Lady Mustangs will ride west to Rhea County where they will face Pigeon Forge Thursday evening at 7, while Coach Williams’ “Stallions” will gallop south of the border to Tunnel Hill, Ga., to battle Murray County at Northwest Whitfield High School. Both events are regular eight-team tournament formats with games also set for Friday and Saturday.
Walker Valley (7-3) started Monday evening’s girls’ battle by hitting eight of its first nine shots, but Lenoir City (4-6), which led 11-7 at one point, nailed 4-of-6 3-pointers to trail by just 18-14 at the first horn.
The hosts stumbled a bit at the start of the second frame with four turnovers and just one made basket in the first three minutes, while the Lady Panthers raced back into the lead with back-to-back treys, a driving basket and a pair of offensive rebound putbacks for a 26-20 edge.
After senior Victoria Jones drilled the first of her four 3-pointers on the evening and classmate Lyndsey Macon swished the third of her treys, the hosts got back on track, but still trailed 29-28 at the mid pole.
Lenoir City pulled back out by five points (40-35) midway through the third frame, but the Lady Mustangs made their move by scoring the final 13 points of the period to take an eight-point advantage.
Down the stretch, the two teams traded the first 25 points almost evenly, before a three-point play by sophomore Kat Alomar pushed the lead to double digits with 1:43 remaining. The teams traded a free throw apiece in the final minute to give the game its final 64-54 tally.
Walker Valley had five players score in double figures, with Jones leading the way with a game-high 17 points. Alomar added 14 markers, five rebounds, a trio of steals and three assists.
Macon collected a double-double with a dozen points, while dishing off 10 assists, plus she pulled down four caroms. Junior posts Jaclyn Griffith and DJ Mowery netted 10 points apiece, while clearing the glass for six and five rebounds respectively.
“We had very good balance in our offense and everyone was willing to get the ball to the one with the open shot,” praised Coach Stone. “We had way too many turnovers (23), but we made a strong run there at the end of third (period) that turned things in our favor.”
Lenoir City had a trio of player net double figures with Lindsay Jones and Amberlee Zeller both collecting 12, including four and three 3-pointers respectively, while Haley Morris had a pair of treys in her 10-point effort.
The Lady Panthers made 11-of-31 3-point attempts, plus went 10-for-23 close in.
’STANGS 69, PANTHERS 58
On a night where 100 3-point shots went up (in the two varsity games), the boys teams combined for 56 from “downtown.”
After the teams traded the first four baskets of the nightcap, Walker Valley put the next 20 points on the scoreboard, including 4-of-5 shots “from distance,” two each by seniors Logan Melton and Brandon Crews.
The Mustangs (6-3) continued in a full gallop in the second frame, pushing a 17-point lead to 26 when the halftime horn sounded.
With Coach Williams giving plenty of guys playing time, Lenoir City (3-8) was able to hold the host to single-digit scoring in the third period and trim the deficit to 19 points heading into the final frame.
The visitors once again outscored Walker Valley in the fourth quarter, thanks mainly to a 10-1 run against the final Mustang reserves in the last 90 seconds.
Senior Lukas Korn led the victory with a double-double, including a game-high 24 points and a dozen rebounds, plus he blocked four shots.
Crews drained a trio of treys on his way to 11 points and four caroms. Hitting a pair of “bombs” apiece, Melton netted eight points and senior Logan Russell helped out with seven.
Senior Dustin Swafford matched Korn’s rebound total with 12, half of which came off the offensive glasses. The Mustangs pulled down an impressive 46 team caroms.
Walker Valley made 17-of-38 shots from in front of the 19-foot line and was 8-for-18 beyond it, while the Panthers put up a total of 72 shots in 32 minutes of play, sinking nine 3-pointers and just eight from close in.
The teams also combined for 47 free throws, with the Mustangs going 11-of-22 and the visitors 15-for-25. Altogether 185 shots went in the air during the boys’ contest, with 65 finding the bottom of the bucket.
Lenoir City 14 15 11 14 — 54
Walker Valley 18 10 20 16 — 64
LADY PANTHERS (54) — Lindsay Jones 12, Amberlee Zeller 12, Haley Morris 10, McFalls 6, Varner 6, Arnwine 3, Johnson 3, Bledsoe 2.
LADY MUSTANGS (64) — Victoria Jones 17, Kat Alomar 14, Lindsey Macon 11, Jaclyn Griffith 10, DJ Mowery 10, Spann 2, Percy.
3-POINTERS: LC 11 (Jones 4, Zeller 3, Morris 2 Arnwine, Johnson); WV 8 (Jones 4, Macon 3, Alomar).
FREE THROWS: LC 1-of-2; WV 8-of-15.
RECORDS: Lenoir City 4-6; Walker Valley 7-3.
Lenoir City 7 13 16 22 — 58
Walker Valley 24 22 9 14 — 69
PANTHERS (58) — Dylan Brewster 19, Joe Pace 16, Carooth 8, Josh Pace 6, Tallent 4, Woods 3, Quinlen 2, Courtney.
MUSTANGS (69) — Lukas Korn 24, Brandon Crews 11, Melton 8, Russell 7, Morrow 6, Swafford 5, Harwood 3, Jones 2, Herd 2, C. Melton 1, Williams, Nunnelly, Montgomery, Conway, Hunt, .
3-POINTERS:LC 9 (Brewster 4, Joe Pace 3, Josh Pace, Woods); WV 8 (Crews 3, L. Melton 2, Russell 2, Harwood).
FREE THROWS: LC 15-of-25; WV 11-of-22.
RECORDS: Lenoir City 3-8; Walker Valley 6-3.