What awaits the Mustangs in Murfreesboro is a daunting 30-1 Siegel Stars team currently ranked first following their 59-52 Region 4-AAA championship win over the Blackman Blaze Thursday.
The region title game gave the Stars the chance to avenge their lone loss of the season which happened at the hands of the Blaze in the District 7-AAA championship game Feb. 18.
Winning the region title also gave Siegel the luxury of home court advantage for the game that decides who goes on to the TSSAA state tournament.
Despite the fact the Mustangs have never played the Stars before, Walker Valley head coach Bob Williams knows that his team is about to face their biggest challenge of the year.
“I’ve watched three different games so far, and they are a talented, athletic and experienced team who are ranked very high,” Williams stated. “This is our biggest challenge of the year. Their players play great on both ends. We believe in our guys; now they have to believe in themselves too.”
In 31 games, Siegel scored a total of 2,312 points to their opponents’ 1,647 points.
This means that on average, the Stars are outscoring their opponents 75-53, minus their 80-65 loss to Blackman.
In a total of 33 games, the Mustangs have outscored their opponents’ 2,028 points to 1,806 points.
On average, Walker Valley has found themselves in much closer battles, outscoring opponents 61-55.
Walker Valley’s 72-54 loss to Stone Memorial Thursday may have cost them the home court advantage, but Williams feels his team is experienced enough to handle the less than ideal playing situation.
“I know it’s going to be a tough enviornment to play in, but once the game starts we just have to put that out of our minds and play basketball,” Williams said.
According to Williams, Siegel’s firepower is driven by a D-I calibar point guard and a couple of good outside shooters.
“They like to press full-court and trap, so we’re talking about going with a smaller lineup, but we’re still trying to figure that out,” Williams stated. “We will use our big lineup and small lineup to see what works best during the game.”
One advantage that the coach feels his team has going into Monday night is in overall size.
“I think we will be a bit bigger than they are; from scouting reports I haven’t seen anyone taller than 6-3 on their roster, so we might have a little advantage inside,” Williams commented.
While the Mustangs have never faced the Stars, Williams feels the quick and athletic style of play displayed by Ooltewah is a glimpse of what they will face in Murfreesboro.
With an experienced group of seniors at the helm, Walker Valley is currently shooting 2-point field goals at 59 percent and hitting 40 percent of 3-pointers for an overall shooting percentage of 54.
Lukas Korn is shooting 2-point field goals at 56-percent, while Austin Harwood is hitting 59 percent of his 2-point attempts.
Brandon Crews is hitting 61-percent of his attempted 2-point baskets and Logan Melton is currently at 62 percent.
Korn, Crews and Melton are also shooting solid 3-pointers, putting up respective 56, 53 and 41 percentages from behind the arc.
Adding to Walker Valley’s firepower is off the bench freshman Bryce Nunnelly, who is currently nailing down 70 percent of his attempted 2-point shots.
This is not the Mustangs’ first foray into the upper echelons of high stakes play. In 2005, a then-AA Walker Valley team lost to Martin Luther King in the sectionals, while in 2009 the 34-2 Mustangs made it to the final four of state competition.
The sectional game on Monday tip off at 8 p.m. at Siegel High School.