Walker Valley’s senior night may have resulted in mixed results, but there was no toning down the feverish excitement exhibited on the court and in the stands.
In their previous meeting on Dec. 17, it was the Mustangs who fell to the Chargers and the Lady Mustangs who came away with a win over the Chargerettes.
Thursday, that outcome was flipped with the Lady Mustangs falling by two points in overtime, while the Mustangs (16-9) came out ahead by two points, 67-65.
Walker Valley head coach Bob Williams knew that his team would have their hands full with the 21-4 Central team.
“We lost by four at their place, and that was a good game over there too. Central is a talented basketball team and Coach Armstrong always does a good job with them,” Williams said. “It was two good teams going at it back in forth. They would make a shot, then we would make a shot. It was close throughout the whole game. I’m just happy for our guys to get the win on senior night.”
Just about halfway through the first quarter the score was tied up seven-all, which Walker Valley senior Brandon Crews solved with a 3-pointer.
The trey by Crews marked the start of a seven-point run by the Mustangs.
Central’s sharpshooter Skylar Farrar stopped the run with a 3-pointer of his own a minute and a half later.
The first quarter ended with Walker Valley up 21-14 over Central.
Forty seconds into the second, high-scoring Charger Josh Scudder got things started with a 3-point bomb.
Two minutes later the Chargers were within three points of the Mustangs, until Dustin Swafford’s rebound off of senior Austin Harwood’s shot gave the momentum back to the home team.
Walker Valley finished out the first half with a seven point, 38-31 lead over McMinn Central.
The third quarter opened up with a 10-point run by the Chargers, which gave them the lead, 41-38, for the first time in the game.
A third technical foul by Central gave Walker Valley the chance to retake the lead 44-41.
With a 53-47 lead going into the final quarter, the Mustangs once again saw the Chargers start things out with a five-point run that brought them within one point of tying the game.
Freshman Bryce Nunnelly’s 3-pointer at 4:45 in the fourth gave Walker Valley a brief four point cushion.
In less than a minute, Scudder was able to once again bring Central within a point of the Navy-and-Gold.
The final three minutes of the game were unnervingly close for the home team, as the Chargers were always just one to two points behind.
“Central has so much firepower and their point guard (Denzel) Boyd is so quick we had a hard time trying to slow him down. Then Skylar Farrar and Josh Scudder can both shoot; they’ve got plenty of weapons. I thought we did a good job in that last minute,” Williams commented.
In the final 10 seconds Lady Luck smiled on the Mustangs, as the normally on target Scudder was unable to hit a game winning 3-pointer off of two back-to-back shots.
“We were just fortunate,” Williams declared.
Crews, who shot 44-percent from behind the arc with four 3-pointers, led the Mustangs with 22 points, with Nunnelly chipping in 15 points in the second half.
“We started playing (Bryce) after the Cleveland game. We knew he was a talented and gifted athlete, so we had to give him a shot. He doesn’t act like a freshman that’s for sure,” Williams stated.
Harwood didn’t let a sore knee slow him down, and finished the game with 10 points.
Overall, Walker Valley was 48-percent for the night in shooting, hitting 20-of-42 of their shots.
The Chargers followed close behind, making 17-of-38 shots for 45-percent.
The game saw four technical fouls, three coming from the visitors and one on the Mustangs.
LADY MUSTANGS 51
Even though the outcome wasn’t the desired one for the Walker Valley girls, head coach Jessica Stone couldn’t be disappointed with the effort that her team displayed Thursday evening, even if their shooting was a bit off.
“I thought they battled, but we didn’t shoot the ball very well, we shot the ball like 33 or 35 percent. I tell them that I’ll never be mad at them for not shooting the ball well because some games its going to happen. They never gave up and never quit, which is all that I can ask,” Stone stated.
The girls game set the tone for the evening, as the evenly matched Lady Mustangs (16-9) and Chargerettes (16-8) battled back and forth on the floor and scoreboard.
Despite the overtime loss, Coach Stone felt that her seniors displayed the same leadership factor that has been present all season.
“Our seniors say it all for our team and I’m proud of all three of them,” Stone said. “Rachel Percy doesn’t get a lot of playing time but she is the best teammate that anyone can ever ask for. Lyndsey Macon has become more of a leader throughout the year and has really stepped up into that role. Vicky (Victoria Jones) has just been consistent at knocking down shots and defensively you can always count on her.”
Walker Valley had a 14-13 lead after one, and after much back-and-forth in the second quarter went into the half with 26-25 lead.
The Chargerettes, who were led by Jacobi Lynn, were able to out score the Lady Mustangs 15-11 in the third, and had a 40-37 lead to start out the final quarter.
That lead became an eight-point lead, as Walker Valley was only able to add three points in the first six minutes of the quarter.
Jones’ trey at 2:09 sparked some life for the Lady Mustangs’ offense, who were able to get within three points of the Chargerettes in the final minute.
A 3-point bomb by Macon with four seconds remaining tied things up 48-all, and extended the game into overtime.
The teams continued their battle in the next four minutes, with the Chargerettes having a 52-51 lead with 18.1 seconds remaining.
One free-throw from the visitors and a missed bucket by the home team resulted in the final of 53-51 falling in favor of Central.
Jones finished the game with 13 points, with Jaclyn Griffith had 10 points.
“I’m glad that we play teams like McMinn Central so that we can continue to get better. I feel like we got better tonight,” Stone declared.
Walker Valley travels to Sequoyah tonight for their fourth and final game of the week.
Monday marks the final game of the regular season, where “The Stable” will play host to Cleveland.
McMinn Central 13 12 15 8 5 — 53
Walker Valley 14 12 11 11 3 — 51
CHARGERETTES (53) — Jacobi Lynn 16, Elizabeth Trentham 15, Plaster 8, Williams 6, Wompler 4, Cherry 4, Martin, Truelove, Loleman, Casteel, Atlerns.
LADY MUSTANGS (51) — Victoria Jones 13, Jaclyn Griffith 10, P. Davis 8, Alomar 7, Macon 5, Mowery 5, Spann 3, Percy, Patel, Cox, Lay, White, C. Davis.
3-POINTERS: WV 6 (Jones 2, P. Davis 2, Macon, Alomar); MC 2 (Cherry, Plaster).
FREE THROWS: WV 11-of-18; MC 21-of-36.
RECORDS: Walker Valley 16-9, 8-3 District 5-AAA; McMinn Central 16-8.
McMinn Central 14 17 16 18 — 65
Walker Valley 21 17 15 14 — 67
CHARGERS (65) — Josh Scudder 23, Denzel Boyd 18, Skylar Farrar 15, Knight 6, Harper 2, Bull 1, Guy, Kay, Miller, Brooks, Natts, Lang.
MUSTANGS (67) — Brandon Crews 22, Bryce Nunnelly 15, Austin Harwood 10, D. Swafford 7, Jones 7, Korn 3, L. Melton 2, Morrow 1, Williams, Hunt, C. Melton, Montgomery, Conway, B. Swafford.
3-POINTERS: WV 8 (Crews 5, L. Melton, Conway); MC 8 (Scudder 4, Farrar 4).
FREE THROWS: WV 22-of-34; MC 23-of-38.
RECORDS: Walker Valley 16-9, 6-5 District 5-AAA; McMinn Central 21-4.