BENTON — Monday was a makeup game for the Walker Valley and Polk County basketball teams, with each school notching a late-season victory with very similar performances.
Walker Valley’s Lady Mustangs raced out to an early lead and maintained a healthy advantage the rest of the way for their 21st win in 22 games this season, 61-50.
The host Polk County Wildcats raced out to an early lead and maintained a healthy advantage the rest of the way for a 58-40 victory.
The Walker Valley girls had two big scorers as sisters Taylor and Jordan Neuharth each scored 21 points with two 3-pointers.
The Polk County boys had two big scorers as guard Alex Akins and center Logan Brewer combined for 50 of their team’s 58 points. Brewer topped all scorers with 27 with his nifty work inside, while Akins’ 23 points included four 3-points.
The two winning coaches were pleased with the effort of their players.
“We had that quick run early and we played hard,” said Walker Valley coach Jan Spangler. “This is a tough place to play, and they gave us a game (after that early run).”
The Walker Valley girls are still without the services of senior Laurel Allen, who suffered a concussion early last week against Cleveland. She is expected to miss the rest of this final week of the regular season.
Tommy Hayes, interim coach for Polk County’s Wildkittens, felt his team played well after Walker Valley’s early run.
Rusty Brewer, coach of the Polk County Wildcats, was delighted with the performance of his team ... especially his two big gunners.
“We’ve not been able to do that all year,” Brewer said of his team’s consistency. “We shot the ball really well early and we showed what we can do (if the pieces all fall together).”
Brewer said the consistency fell off somewhat in the second half with the Wildcats’ huge lead. “We didn’t want to keep racing up and down the floor (with the big lead),” he said.
Walker Valley’s Bob Williams was disappointed with his team’s effort. “We didn’t come over here ready to play,” he said. “But, you have to give them credit, they did come to play.”
Williams said it’ll be tough for his team to come back tonight in the Mustangs’ final District 5-AAA game at home against Rhea County. The Walker Valley teams end the regular season Thursday night against visiting William-Blount.
Polk County also has two games remaining, at home tonight against Tellico and at Sweetwater on Thursday.
The Neuharth sisters are not twins, but they played twin-like on Monday with identical productions. Both were consistent with their scoring, combining for 42 of Walker Valley’s 61 points.
Jordan got five points and Taylor 10 with her two 3-pointers in the opening quarter as Walker Valley raced out to a 22-10 lead.
Polk County rallied in the second quarter behind three 3-pointers by high-scoring Macclain Yowarsky, getting within seven of the front-running Lady Mustangs at 29-22. Walker Valley was up by eight at the half, 32-24.
Walker Valley continued to control the action in the third quarter, surging to an 18-point advantage, 53-35, going to the fourth quarter. The Wildkittens continued to chip at the Lady Mustangs’ lead, getting it to 11 at the end of the game.
The Neuharths had most of Walker Valley’s points, with center Kayla Sewell adding nine to the team’s total.
Yowarsky had her second-highest point total of the year with 24, getting five 3-pointers. She scored 26 earlier this season against Meigs County. Guard Stephanie Qualls had 10 points with three 3-pointers.
The loss drops the Wildkittens to 18-7 on the year.
It was a two-man scoring show from start to finish for the host Wildcats.
Brewer, Polk County’s big center, scored inside for his 27 points as Walker Valley could not keep him off the boards. He also scored consistently from the free throw line.
Akins had the range from the outside, especially in the first half, as the Wildcats kept the Mustangs frustrated with a solid defensive effort.
No Walker Valley player could find the range from the field, with normally high-scoring Drew Zaleta taking team honors with only eight points. Guard Caio Hysinger added seven to the Mustangs’ total, Joseph Lowe got six and Jahmal Johnson five.
Walker Valley managed only seven points in the opening quarter and trailed by nine, 16-7. The situation got worse in the second quarter as the Wildcats put 21 more points through the hoop for a 37-13 advantage at intermission.
The pace of the game slowed in the second half with Polk County protecting its sizable lead.
Coach Williams sent his reserves into the contest with 5:26 remaining, and his Mustangs on the short end of a 50-28 score. The subs showed some life as they cut the final margin to 18 at 58-40.
n Walker Valley collected wins in the two junior varsity games. The Young Mustangs won, 49-36, to improve their season to 6-7. The junior Lady Mustangs (5-2) added a 48-35 victory.
The Mustangs had a balanced scoring attack with Clay Heltzell getting 10, Brett Barton nine, Lucas Korn eight and Derice Anthony eight. Cody Grommes paced Polk County with 10 and Evan Ball added nine.
Maggie Thompson topped the Walker Valley girls with 15, while Halleigh Black and Aayliah Pitner scored nine apiece.
LADY MUSTANGS 61, WILDKITTENS 50
Walker Valley 22 10 21 8 — 61
Polk County 11 14 11 14 — 50
Lady Mustangs (61) — Jordan Neuharth 21, Macon, Taylor Neuharth 21, Liner, Stepp 2, Terpstra 4, Black, Sotuyo 4, Kayla Sewell 9.
Wildkittens (50) — Richmond 1, Hatcher, Wilson 4, Silvers 5, Miles, Webb, Waldroup, Stephanie Qualls 10, Epperson, Lee 4, Greer 2, Macclain Yowarsky 24, Potts, Lynn.
3-pointers: Walker Valley 4 (J. Neuharth 2, T Neuharth 2). Polk County 9 (Yowarsky 5, Qualls 3, Wilson).
Records: Walker Valley 21-1; Polk County Polk County 18-7.
WILDCATS 58, MUSTANGS 40
Walker Valley 7 6 13 14 — 40
Polk County 16 21 9 12 — 58
Mustangs (40) — Drew Zaleta 8, Anthony 2, Hysinger 7, Harwood 2, Savage, Cartwright 2, Heltzel 3, Johnson 5, Foy, Lowe 6, Brownfield 4, Franklin, Young 1.
Wildcats (58) — Hutcheson, Cheatham, Alex Akins 23, Simpson, Burger, Groomes, Young 1, Raper 3, Logan Brewer 27, Ball 4, Richmond.
3-pointers: Walker Valley 4 (Zaleta 2, Heltzel, Johnson); Polk County 5 (Akins 4, Raper 1).
Records: Walker Valley 4-17; Polk County 10-16.