SPARTA — The Lady Mustangs controlled the tempo early against White County Friday night in Sparta, but lost that control in the second half. The Warriorettes pulled away steadily in the third quarter and went on to a 78-61 win over Walker Valley.
The Mustangs (2-0) found themselves in a region tournament-like battle with the Warriors (1-1) in the nightcap. Walker Valley and White County battled to a tie in regulation before the Mustangs pulled away in overtime to hold on for a 62-59 win.
"It was like a February game almost. It felt like a region game," said a still excited Mustangs coach Bob Williams in the visitor's locker room after the victory. "The guys hung in there even after we got into foul trouble. Here at White County they have great tradition. Beating them on the road is a great win for us."
Senior Caio Hysinger led the scoring effort for Walker Valley with 12 points. Logan Melton and Luke Korn followed with 11 points apiece.
Walker Valley battled fouls and a White County home-court advantage from the opening tip. Hysinger put the Mustangs up 7-2 with his first 3-pointer of the game and Korn made it 11-5 with back-to-back baskets. The Mustangs held a 15-8 lead after the first eight minutes.
"It was tough all night. On the road it's tough. The guys hung in there and made the plays down the stretch. It could have been anybody's ballgame," said Williams. "I told them before the ballgame this place has rich tradition and it's going to be tough. They have home-court advantage and this is a big home-court advantage. They have had a lot of good games here. For us to pull one out, I think that's great for the guys going forward into Thanksgiving."
White County scored the first five points of the second quarter to pull within two points of the Mustangs. After tying the game and taking a brief lead with just over three minutes left in the first half, The Mustangs outscored the Warriors 5-2 and headed into halftime with a 26-24 lead.
Walker Valley fought to stay out front in the third but fell behind late in the quarter to trail 40-39 at the buzzer.
While the Mustangs battled to pick up points from the floor in the fourth, the Warriors settled in at the free-throw line. White County scored 12 of 14 points from the stripe while Walker Valley's Korn and Jackson Brownfield left the court after fouling out.
Williams said afterward there could have been calls that could have gone either way down the stretch, particularly blocked shot whistles.
Walker Valley took a 54-53 lead on a Hysinger basket with 51 seconds left in regulation only to watch as the Warriors made good on the front end of a two-shot foul to send the game into overtime.
"All those are 50/50 calls. The referee makes judgement calls and at home they are probably going to get those calls. It was just a great game on both ends," said Williams.
Overtime was all Walker Valley. Hysinger put the Mustangs up 57-54 with a 3 from the right wing and the Mustangs, after a 3-pointer by the Warriors, held White County on only two more points the rest of the way to lock up the win.
"I said (heading into overtime) it was anybody's ballgame, still. I said we had it, but it's anybody's ballgame," Williams said. “Jackson was out, Korn was out, two starters fouled out. I told them to hang in there. Bradley Franklin did a good job coming in and we did things we needed to do at the end."
LADY MUSTANGS 61
Wendi Watson opened the night for the Walker Valley girls with a 3-pointer. Lindsey Sotoyo followed with a basket, Watson lifted in another 3 and the Lady Mustangs looked as though the night would yield win No. 2 on the season.
It was not to be.
The Warriorettes battled back to take a 14-10 lead after one quarter and scored 21 points second-quarter points to lead 35-32 at halftime.
"We felt really good going into halftime. I don't feel like we shot the ball well at all. I feel like our offense got stagnant in the second half. We quit penetrating and we quit getting things open for other kids," said Lady Mustangs coach Jessica Stone. "Plus, they (White County) quit missing all their shots. They starting hitting."
Watson, who led the Lady Mustangs (1-1) with 15 points on five 3-pointers, opened the third period with a 3 to close the White County (2-0) lead to 37-35. Walker Valley closed to within a single point three times in the third only to watch Warriorettes score the final eight points of the quarter and take a 58-48 lead.
Stone said afterward if the Lady Mustangs could have found a way to push past the Warriorettes, that could possibly have changed the outcome.
"A momentum swing would have been awesome. I feel like every time we had the momentum something would happen. We bailed them out way too much tonight," she said. "We fouled and fouled and fouled and we didn't get to the free-throw line enough because we stopped penetrating. We settled for some questionable three pointers. But, I always tell the girls if they are open they had better shoot it, so I can see why they would shoot it."
The Warriorettes kept the scoring machine turned up in the fourth and built a 20-point lead before ending with an 17-point victory.
"We have so much to work on. But, I feel so much better about where we are right now than I did at any point last year. I just told them we have to learn from this," said Stone.
WHITE COUNTY 78, WALKER VALLEY 60
Walker Valley 10 22 16 13 — 61
White County 14 21 23 20 — 78
LADY MUSTANGS (61) — Wendi Watson 15, Lindsey Sotuyo 12, Lyndsey Macon 11, Pitner 8, Jones 5, Davis 3, Griffith 2, Alomar 5, Beavers, Percy, Knipp.
WARRIORETTES (78) — Loren Foster 16, Latha Wilson 15, Allyson Quillen 13, Krista King 12, Taylor 2, Hudgens 3, Lewis 6, Cash.
3-point goals: Walker Valley 9 (Watson 5, Pitner 2, Davis, Alomar); White County 5 (Foster 4, Wilson).
Records: Walker Valley 1-1; White County 2-0.
MUSTANGS 62, WARRIORS 59 OT
Walker Valley 15 11 13 15 8 — 62
White County 8 16 16 14 5 — 59
MUSTANGS (62) — Caio Hysinger 12, Logan Melton 11, Luke Korn 11, Tucker Godfrey 10, Harwood 2, Cartwright 3, Russell 1, Swafford 1, Brownfield 6, Morrow, Crews.
WARRIORS (59) — Kordell Henderson 23, Dalton Nash 13, Wilkerson 7, Newport 2, Stephenson 4, Crosland 8, Bohannon.
3-point goals: Walker Valley 3 (Hysinger 2, Melton); White County 5 (Henderson 4, Wilkerson).
Records: Walker Valley 2-0; White County 1-1.