There was a whole lot of scoring going on at “The Corral” by both District 5-AAA champion Walker Valley and Cumberland County in the boys Region 3-AAA quarterfinal game Saturday night.
By the end of a hoop-filled second half, the Mustangs had racked up 46 points, while the Jets finished with a total of 50 points, 32 of which came in the fourth quarter alone.
A strong finish by the Cumberland boys was not enough to steal the glory from Walker Valley, who advanced to the region semifinals with their 73-65 win.
“We are just trying to survive and advance. They made a little run on us at the end there, but I’m proud of our guys for hanging in and making free throws down the stretch. We live another day,” Walker Valley head coach Bob Williams stated.
The Mustangs had three senior players in the double digits Saturday night, with normal high scorer Brandon Crews netting 20 points, while Dustin Swafford and Logan Melton stepped things up and finished with 19 and 18 points respectively.
“Logan and Dustin really stepped up for us tonight. Logan started us out hitting some 3’s and Dustin did a great job finishing around the goal. I’m really proud of the overall team effort,” Williams declared.
The Jets got on the board first with a basket by Austin Brown, but the efforts of Melton and Crews soon put the Mustangs out ahead of the visitors.
Melton hit a trio of treys almost one after the other, with two baskets by Crews sandwiching the 3-pointers.
Swafford chipped in a final basket for Walker Valley in the final 13 seconds of the first quarter, giving the Navy-and-Gold a 15-7 lead.
The second quarter was once again controlled by the Mustangs, who were able to outscore the Jets 12-8 before the half.
With a sound 27-15 lead to start of the second half, the game tempo appeared to be set in Walker Valley’s favor, but Cumberland County had a few tricks left up their sleeves.
The Jets went almost point for point with the Mustangs, making up for a sluggish offensive in the first half.
While Walker Valley netted 22 points in the third quarter, Cumberland was able to rack up 18 points.
The Mustangs’ first six points of the game came from baskets by Swafford, with Melton making it 35-19 at 5:50 with a basket of his own.
By the time the quarter was over, Swafford had netted 13 of his 19 points.
A 3-point bomb from Crews in the final 33 seconds in the third quarter gave the Mustangs a 49-33 lead to start the fourth.
The final quarter of the game brought on a scoring bonanza, with Cumberland County racking up 32 points and Walker Valley finishing with 24 more points.
The Jets were able to cut their deficit to 10 points with a pair of 3-pointers in the first minute of the quarter.
Walker Valley’s Josh Jones brought a brief pause to Cumberland’s six point run as he hit two free throws.
Just 30 seconds later another trey was tossed in by the Jets, and a steal by Logan Parsons resulted in another two points, cutting the deficit to seven.
Crews hit a 3-pointer in an attempt to slow up Cumberland’s momentum, but back-to-back trip to the charity stripe by David Elliott made it a 54-48 game with 4:44 remaining.
Melton was able to add five more points for the Mustangs, once again giving them a more comfortable 11-point lead.
Walker Valley had a 65-52 lead with 1:30 left on the clock, and despite Cumberland outscoring them 13-8.
Despite the whopping point totaled up by the Jets in those final eight minutes, they were never able to come closer than seven points to the Mustangs’ lead.
Walker Valley was 16-for-17 from the free throw line, with Melton, Crews, Swafford and Jones hitting 100-percent of their shots. Cumberland went 12-for-16 from the charity stripe with Cade Smith and Parsons putting up perfect numbers.
The Jets also saw three players put up double digits, with 21 points from Smith, 16 from Parsons and 13 point from Elliott.
The Mustangs will face an all-too familiar foe on Tuesday, as Bradley Central advanced to the region semifinals following their 61-53 win over Cookeville Saturday night.
During the regular season the Bears swept the Mustangs, only to suffer a 71-59 defeat to their county rivals in the district semifinals.
While Coach Williams knows that each game brings about different challenges, he at least has a bench with plenty of depth and experience.
“Our bench is probably one of our biggest strengths. We’ve got nine or 10 guys that I play on any given night. They all have experience and I can trust whoever I put in there: That’s an huge advantage for us,” Williams explained.
Walker Valley’s overall record now stands at 22-9, while Bradley’s is at 16-11.
Cumberland County 7 8 18 32 — 65
Walker Valley 15 12 22 24 — 73
JETS (65) — Cade Smith 21, Logan Parsons 16, David Elliott 13, Brown 8, Poore 7, Graham, Dixon, Vaden, Christopher, McClain, Myers, McLaughlin, Tabor.
MUSTANGS (73) — Brandon Crews 20, Dustin Swafford 19, Logan Melton 18, Harwood 6, Nunnelly 4, Jones 4, Morrow 2, Herd, Williams C. Melton, Montgomery, Conway, Hunt,
3-Point Goals: Cumberland 7 (Smith 4, Parsons 2, Poore); WV 5 (Melton 3, Crews 2).
Records: Cumberland County 11-19; Walker Valley 22-9.