Flexing early and down the final stretch, Walker Valley's flame grew as an undefeated start to the season continued against a crosstown rival on the road.After being outscored by 104 points in three …
Flexing early and down the final stretch, Walker Valley's flame grew as an undefeated start to the season continued against a crosstown rival on the road.
After being outscored by 104 points in three games last season by Cleveland, the two-time reigning district champion Blue Raiders could not stop Jordan Munck and company.
With ice in his veins the senior Mustang point guard drilled a 3-pointer to end the third quarter and nailed two more in a row to start the fourth quarter. Munck dropped 15 of his 18 points in the second half to spark a celebration with WV's student section after a 68-58 victory in Raider Arena Tuesday night.
"These games are what you live for," Munck said. "The atmosphere was crazy and it was awesome to celebrate in the mosh pit with our student section at the end. No one thought we would be where we are at right now, but the guys in our locker room and our coaches never doubted us one bit."
Typically starting slower the past few seasons and known for heating up for the second half stretch, a new era has started in full gallop under familiar leadership with head coach Will Campbell and assistant Dine Patterson.
Tabbed to finish fifth in the District 5-AAA preseason polls, Walker Valley (7-0, 2-0 5-AAA) has been sparked by unselfish play leading to a strong flow on the court. They are off to the best start in program history since its 2009 state tournament team won 15 straight to open a 34-win campaign.
"We are working hard every day and focusing on the things we can control," Campbell said soon after thanking his school's student section for their support. "We are playing for each other and executing. These guys don't care how many points they score, but will ask me after games how many assists or rebounds did they get. We are not 7-0 by accident."
Cleveland (5-3, 0-2 5-AAA) could not hold down the defensive end early as they were down a standout defender in senior Isaiah Johnson.
In the rematch of last year's district championship game, which was a 45-point rout in favor of the Blue Raiders, the Mustangs delivered the first blow with a 25-12 lead after missing just two shots in the first quarter.
WV's early lead would be trimmed to 31-30 at the half as Darius Howard a spark with hustle plays, while JaCobi Wood and Grant Hurst got going on the offensive end.
Wood sent the home crowd into a fever pitch with a 3-point bomb to put CHS ahead 47-41 in with two two minutes left in the third quarter. However, his game-high 25 points would not be enough.
A pair of juniors helped seal the deal for the Mustangs as Noah Duprey and Braden Davis clicked right along side Munck.
The final 5:11 belonged to WV as they went on a 15-3 run to close the game and did not turn the ball over once. Davis and Duprey each scored six points in the final quarter and battled for defensive stops.
"Everyone on our team plays hard and is comfortable in late game moments," said Munck, who finished with six assists. "We settled down and finished. Braden came in and made the right passes and played aggressive. Noah and Luke (Wallace) crashed the boards. Alex (Duke) and Blake (Campbell) hit big shots too. We all play together as a family."
Duprey finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, as his stout effort handed Cleveland more district losses than they have had in the past two regular seasons combined.
Duke finished in double figures with 11 points, while Campbell sunk a pair of 3's and Wallace hauled in 10 rebounds.
No longer slept on, the Mustangs will look to keep up their fire with district tests coming against Ooltewah (home) Friday and East Hamilton (road) next Tuesday
"There are plenty of colleges that don't have the kind of environment we played in here tonight," Campbell said. "This is pretty special for these guys. They are making memories they will still talk about 20 years from now."
Cleveland will look to find itself after two tough losses as they travel to Soddy-Daisy Friday night.
"We didn't respond to the next man up challenge," CHS head coach Jason McCowan said. "They gave us their best I feel and we did not give them our best. We have to regroup and play better all-around."
LADY RAIDERS 70, LADY MUSTANGS 49
Confidence is brewing for Cleveland on the girls side after a hot start to District 5-AAA play.
Following up their red-hot performance in the second half at East Hamilton Friday night, the Lady Raiders opened up with 24 points in the first quarter to take command over Walker Valley.
Seven different players scored in the opening eight minutes on a night Tony Williams commended his team's energy at all levels.
"I can't say enough about these girls and their energy," Williams said. "They are into it from the start whether it's on the floor or on the bench. It's contagious. Kaitlyn Goodman came out with nine points in the first half for us off the bench and Mariyah Person hit some really nice jump shots too."
CHS sophomore slasher Joy Douglass showed toughness yet again taking her bumps and bruises on her way to a 16-point effort to go with nine rebounds.
Fellow second-year player Brenna Droke notched a dozen points and a pair of 3-pointers along with Goodman in the victory.
The Lady Raiders are now 4-5 overall and have won their first two district battles by 45 combined points.
"We came into the season clanking a little bit, but now we are headed in the right direction," Williams said. "We just need to keep up the consistency and energy. Our girls have a lot to prove going forward still with some tough tests over Christmas break."
Walker Valley (3-4, 1-1 5-AAA) was led by senior Abbey Davis, who was unstoppable at points and finished with 25 points.
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