The Lady Mustangs had a bit of a tougher time with the Sevier Bearettes, pushing the visitors to the wire before falling by a single point, 50-49.
Austin Harwood pumped in 17 points and Lukas Korn added 12 more as the Mustangs overcame a bit of a slow start, but followed Harwood’s opening 3-pointer to lead 17-10 after the first quarter.
“We started out a little slow. We had to shake the rust off a bit. But they have been chomping at the bit to play, it’s been a while. We had some good scrimmages but it’s nothing like a real game atmosphere with the student body,” said Mustangs coach Bob Williams. “I thought we played well on both ends of the floor offensively and defensively. Sevier County is missing some of their football guys, but their coach is a good coach. They run some good stuff. They are going to be good down the road, I’m sure.”
The Bears scored the first basket of the second quarter, but Walker Valley reeled off 10 straight points beginning and ending with 3s from Josh Jones and Logan Russell.
Walker Valley led 29-14 at halftime after holding Sevier to only four points in the period.
“They (Sevier) are a scrappy bunch. They hung around and hung around, then we finally got a little distance,” said Williams.
The Mustangs put it all together in the third quarter. Brandon Crews followed two Harwood free throws with a 3-pointer and Walker Valley was off and running, building a 19-point lead midway through the quarter. Dustin Swafford, Logan Melton and Lukas Korn all contributed to help the Mustangs build a 47-31 lead heading into the fourth.
Williams was able to empty his bench in the final eight minutes and watched as the second line tossed in 19 points while again holding Sevier County to just four points.
“Our bench coming in and really stepping up was a big positive. We got to put in a lot of guys — I think I played all 14 tonight. We didn’t lose a whole lot. We’re pretty deep, that’s one thing that stood out,” said Williams. “It’s a long season, we are just trying to get ready for February.”
“But we don’t get any rest. Tomorrow night, White County comes in and it’s going to be a tough game. That coach does a good job too. They are always pretty good.”
LADY MUSTANGS 49
It was a disappointed Lady Mustangs’ coach who stepped out of the locker room after the Walker Valley girls dropped a one-point outcome to the Sevier County Bearettes.
“I was pretty pleased with our intensity, for the most part. There are some things I could have done differently, I think. I just hate to lose and I have a horrible feeling in my stomach because we lost, especially the way we lost (by one point),” said Lady Mustangs coach Jessica Stone.
The Lady Mustangs got a solid, 17-point effort from Jaclyn Griffith in the opener, but in the end Sevier County snagged one final rebound off a missed free throw, scored with 18 seconds left and held on for the win.
The Bearettes finished off the first quarter with a 16-13 lead after the Lady Mustangs missed on 5-of-11 free throws. Missed opportunities at the line and a better effort on the boards by Sevier would eventually come back to haunt Walker Valley in the end.
Griffith scored nine of her 17 on back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers to lead off the second quarter. Peyton Davis added another trey that put the Lady Mustangs up 27-24 with just over three minutes left in the half. Sevier County closed out the first half with a basket at the buzzer to make it a 29-28 game in favor of Walker Valley.
“The first half they beat us on the boards for sure. For the game we had 17 offensive rebounds and 16 defensive rebounds. But we were 12-for-21 from the free-throw line. So there you go,” Stone said if the low percentage statistic. “But that can be fixed.”
Lyndsey Macon opened the third quarter with a 3 that put the Lady Mustangs on top 32-28. She followed with a 2-pointer to give Walker Valley a seven-point lead, the biggest of the game by either team.
The Bearettes battled back and closed out the half with a pair of 3s to trail 42-40 after three quarters.
The Lady Mustangs held a 49-43 lead with 3:48 left in the game, but the Bearettes were not finished just yet.
A pair of free throws and a 3-pointer cut Walker Valley’s lead to 49-48 with 1:20 to go. The Lady Mustangs spread the court and played keep away before Sevier County fouled, sending Walker Valley to the line with 25 seconds left. The toss bounced off the iron and into the hands of the Bearettes, who took a fast break downcourt to score with 18 seconds on the clock. From there, Sevier County was able to keep the Lady Mustangs out of the net and locked up the win.
“We’re solid in some areas and we need a lot of work in other areas. Fortunately it’s the first game, so there’s plenty of time to work on stuff,” said Stone.
“It’s our first game and there is tons to build on. There is good and there’s bad. I wish we would have won, but for our first game I feel like we are better right now than we were at this time last year.”
BEARETTES 50, LADY MUSTANGS 49
Sevier County 16 12 12 10 — 50
Walker Valley 13 16 13 7 — 49
Sevier County (50) — Katlyn Davis 20, Brittany Tar 11, Maples 8, McKinney 5, Fox 3, Funderburg 3, Miniard, Cole.
Walker Valley (49) — Jaclyn Griffith 17, Alomar 9, Macon 8, Spann 6, P. Davis 5, Jones 4, Percy, Mowery.
3-point goals: Sevier County 1 (Davis); Walker Valley 7 (Griffith 4, Jones, Macon, P. Davis).
Records: Sevier County 1-0; Walker Valley 0-1.
MUSTANGS 66, BEARS 35
Sevier County 10 4 18 4 — 35
Walker Valley 17 12 18 19 — 66
Sevier County (35) — Cody Underwood 12, Pope 9, Baker 9, Loveday 6, Barnett, Ramsey, Pilarczyk, Marshall.
Walker Valley (66) — Austin Harwood 17, Lukas Korn 12, Jones 9, Crews 6, Russell 5, Nunnelly 5, Swafford 4, L. Melton 2, C. Melton 2, Williams 2, Conway, Herd, Morrow, Montgomery.
3-point goals: Sevier County 3 (Underwood 2, Pope); Walker Valley 9 (Jones 3, Harwood 2, Crews 2, Nunnelly).
Records: Sevier County 0-1; Walker Valley 1-0.