The favored Walker Valley girls and Cleveland boys walked away with wins, although the Cleveland girls challenged the once-beaten Lady Mustangs for a half ... and the Walker Valley boys shook off a dismal first half to display some scoring ability in the third quarter.
Coach Jan Spangler’s Lady Mustangs jumped in front early, but Cleveland rallied to cut the host team’s advantage to 20-15 at intermission. Switching to a zone defense in the second half ignited the Walker Valley girls to a 43-10 edge over the final two quarters and a 63-25 victory, the Lady Mustangs’ 12th in 13 games.
Coach Jason McCowan’s Raiders scored freely and often through the first two quarters for a 47-18 lead at halftime, keeping the Mustangs from finding any rhythm on either end of the floor.
Walker Valley had its biggest quarter of the year in the third period with 27 points, but the damage had already been done as Cleveland went on to an 85-59 triumph. It was Cleveland’s 10th win in 14 games this season.
Raiders 85, Mustangs 59
Depth and athleticism were the key ingredients in the boys’ game as the Blue Raiders notched win No. 10.
The Walker Valley boys couldn’t get in the flow over the first two quarters with three players scoring four points apiece. The Mustangs found themselves in a deep hole at the break, 47-18.
“We got a really good start and kept them from getting into any type of rhythm,” said Cleveland coach Jason McCowan after the game. “That good start was the key, as we ran the floor well and stressed our transition game.”
McCowan used his players freely, and every player who dressed got into the action before the final buzzer.
McCowan praised the play of Jarod Rhodes, who scored 17 points to share scoring honors with teammate D.J. Bowles. “He ran the floor well, which is something we’ve been trying to get him to do,” McCowan said.
Walker Valley coach Bob Williams was not pleased with his team’s effort, especially in the first half.
“We’re still looking for five guys committed to playing all-out on both ends of the floor,” Williams said. He said the Mustangs’ 15 turnovers in the first half were not acceptable, and the fact Cleveland was scoring at will inside.
“We just did not work on the boards,” the Walker Valley coach continued. “We’ve been working hard, but it’s just not there. It’s something that takes guts and determination.”
The Mustangs’ mentor was complimentary of the Raiders, as he stressed his team’s weaknesses. “You can’t come out like we did and expect to play close to Cleveland,” he said.
Tevin Rutledge also joined Bowles and Rhodes in double figures with 15 for Cleveland. Rondazz Mee got 14 and B.J. Davis nine.
Despite being held to just four points at halftime, high-scoring Drew Zaleta finished the game with 14 points for the Mustangs. Dylan Savage came off the bench to match Zaleta for game honors with 14, getting four 3-pointers in the second half. Guard Caio Hysinger added 12 to the Walker Valley total.
The Cleveland boys scored the first nine points of the game and were in front by 14 at the quarter, 23-9. A near-identical output in the second quarter (24-9) had the Raiders well ahead at 47-18.
The Mustangs pumped 27 points through the net in the third quarter, sparked by the three-point shooting of Savage and Zaleta, but the Raiders were still ahead by 23 points, 68-45.
Both coaches ushered reserves into the contest in the fourth quarter.
Lady Mustangs 63
Lady Raiders 25
The Cleveland girls kept the host Lady Mustangs rattled through the opening half, but the second half was another story.
Walker Valley’s potent three-point shooting was not connecting in the opening two quarters, but offensive rebounds sparked by senior center Kayla Sewell allowed the Lady Mustangs to control the play.
Much like the boys’ game, it was a one-team show early. Walker Valley’s girls scored the first eight points and enjoyed a 15-6 lead at the first break. Scoring continued to be limited in the second quarter as the Lady Raiders stayed in touch behind the play of Qetewrah Abdullah Mohammed.
Four consecutive free throws near the end of the second quarter pulled Cleveland within four points, 19-15, but Walker Valley’s senior point guard Jordan Neuharth added a free throw for a 20-15 advantage at the half.
Walker Valley made some changes at halftime which turned the game around. “They were getting by us (with their quickness), so we changed to a zone defense in the second half,” said coach Spangler after the game.
She felt the change allowed her girls to settle down and play with their usual consistency. Walker Valley’s defense limited the Cleveland offense to 10 points over the final 16 minutes as the Lady Mustangs raced away.
“When we start missing shots, we start thinking too much,” Spangler said. The team’s first-half misses began finding the range in the second half.
Cleveland coach Rachel Moore felt her girls responded well in the first half, but lost touch over the final two periods.
“Walker Valley is a very good basketball team and they’ve got shooters,” she said of the Lady Mustangs 43-point second half.
She also voiced some disappointment in the Lady Raiders’ letdown. “After we came back (following the holidays) our practices have been good,” she said. “I thought we had taken a step forward.”
Moore said her girls need to learn from Friday’s loss, and take away from positives.
Sewell was an inspiration to her Walker Valley teammates. She scored only six points, but had five blocks and 10 rebounds against the athletic Lady Raiders inside. “Her presence is so valuable to us,” said coach Spangler.
Walker Valley’s sister tandem, Jordan and Taylor Neuharth, paced the Lady Mustangs in scoring again with 15 and 12 points respectively. Left-hander Karis Terpstra added 12 points, including two 3-pointers, while Jessica Stepp came off the bench to hoop three 3-pointers for nine points.
The Cleveland girls lacked balance in scoring, with Mohammed collecting 12 points as the only Lady Raider with more than six points. Sydnie Anderson got six with two 3-pointers.
n The closest score of the night came in a boys’ junior varsity game, where Walker Valley pulled out a 64-56 win with a late surge. The victory was the young Mustangs’ third in five games.
Brett Barton tossed in 14 points to lead Walker Valley in scoring. Derice Anthony added 13, Austin Harwood got 11 and Colton Hysinger tallied nine with two 3-pointers.
Shun Qualls paced Cleveland’s balanced attack with 18 points. Brian Armstrong added 12 points, D.J. Jones got nine, David Morgan eight and Kendrick Thompson seven.
n There was a huge downside to Friday’s girls’ competition when Cleveland’s Noraziah Berry injured a knee during a collision in the second half. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital to determine the extent of the damage.
Cleveland 6 9 7 3 — 25
Walker Valley 15 5 19 24 — 63
Lady Raiders (25) — A. Abdullah-Mohammed. Perkins 2, Qetewrah Abdullah-Mohammed 12, Langford, Capron, Berry 5, Anderson 6, Courtney.
Lady Mustangs (63) — Jordan Neuharth 15, Allen 5, Sewell 6, Taylor Neuharth 12, Karis Terpstra 10, Jessica Stepp 9, Sotuyo 2, Black, Macon 4.
3-pointers: Cleveland 2 (Anderson 2); Walker Valley 7 (Stepp 3, Terpstra 2, J. Neuharth, T. Neuharth).
Records: Cleveland 7-6, 2-3 District 5-AAA; Walker Valley 12-1, 4-0 District 5-AAA.
Cleveland 23 24 21 17 — 85
Walker Valley 9 9 27 14 — 59
Raiders (85) — Qualls 3, Tevin Rutledge 15, Upton 3, Rondazz Mee 14, D.J. Bowles 17, Morgan 1, Jarod Rhodes 17, B.J. Davis 9, Hiddleston, Goldston, Robinson 6, T. Rhodes, Herink.
Mustangs (59) — Drew Zaleta 14, Hunter, Lowe 4, Brownfield, Caio Hysinger 12, Franklin 2, Dylan Savage 14, Johnson 6, Anthony, Heltzel 5, Young.
3-pointers: Cleveland 4 (Rutledge 2, Qualls, Upton); Walker Valley 8 (Savage 4, Zaleta 2, Hysinger, Heltzel).
Records: Cleveland 10-4, 4-1 District 5-AAA; Walker Valley 1-11, 0-4 District 5-AAA.