LENOIR CITY — The Walker Valley basketball teams wrapped up play Thursday in the Lenoir City Invitational, the boys fading in the final minutes for a tough loss, 70-61, and the girls completely dominating the South-Doyle girls, 61-20, despite a five-minute nap in the opening quarter.
Coaches Bob Williams (boys) and Jan Spangler (girls) felt this week’s competition was beneficial to their teams as the Mustangs and Lady Mustangs return to the friendly confines of the “Stable” this week.
The Mustangs have played only one game at home in 10 games, losing eight of those contests. But, coach Williams’ team has continued to improve and played well in spots at Lenoir City.
The Lady Mustangs have played two games on their home floor, suffering their only loss (to Girls Preparatory School, of Chattanooga) at Walker Valley.
The teams will face two tough opponents back-to-back next week when Baylor’s Red Raiders come calling on Tuesday and Cleveland visits Friday.
In finishing their three games at Lenoir City, the Mustangs gave Anderson County a tussle before a drought late in the game left Walker Valley on the short end of the score.
The girls raced out to a 14-2 lead and appeared to be headed for a blowout. South-Doyle took advantage of a lull in the Lady Mustangs’ play to catch up and took the lead on the opening shot of the second quarter.
But, South-Doyle’s girls discovered it doesn’t pay to make the Lady Mustangs (or their coach) mad.
Walker Valley’s players turned up their defense to high intensity, as South-Doyle went 17 minutes without a point and scored only four points over the final 23:45 of the game.
Mavericks 70, Mustangs 61
The Mustangs fell behind early, but caught up at 7-7 midway through the first quarter. Anderson County then ran out to an 18-9 advantage at the break.
The lead climbed to 14 (30-16) before the Mustangs began to rally. Drew Zaleta and Jahmal Johnson sparked the Mustangs on a 14-point run to tie the score at 30-30 early in the second half.
Anderson County’s Alan Holt then began to connect from long range and his 3-pointers kept his team on top, 46-43, at the end of three quarters.
The Mustangs stayed around for the early minutes of the fourth quarter, but then faded. Walker Valley failed to hit a free throw on four tries in the final period and Anderson County banged the offensive boards for the nine-point victory.
“We’re making some progress, but we’ve got to get even better,” said coach Williams after the game. “We have some tough games through the remainder of the season.”
Zaleta and Johnson topped the Mustangs in scoring with 20 and 19 points respectively. Caio Hysinger chipped in eight.
Holt’s four 3-pointers led him to 24 points for Anderson County. Tanner Jones got 15 and Ross Cannon 11 for the winners.
Lady Mustangs 61
Lady Cherokees 20
It really wasn’t much of a competitive game, although Walker Valley notched its 10th win in 11 games. South-Doyle made a run through the final four minutes of the first quarter, but that was about it for the South Knoxville team.
Walker Valley dashed ahead 14-2 early, but then the offense sputtered, going five minutes without a point. Erin Ketron hit two 3-pointers from the left corners to spark an 11-0 run as South-Doyle got within a point, 14-13, at the first-quarter break.
Ketron hit another 3-pointer after 15 seconds of the second quarter as the Lady Mustangs found themselves behind 16-14 ... much to the disgust of coach Spangler.
“We had some players who were just standing around,” she said after the game.
A quick discussion (between the Walker Valley coach and her players) ignited the Lady Mustang defense. South-Doyle failed to score for the next 17 minutes as the Lady Mustangs went on a 37-0 run for a 51-16 lead. The Lady Cherokee failed to get the basketball across center-court on six consecutive possessions.
Sisters Jordan and Taylor Neuharth paced the Walker Valley scoring again, Jordan tossing in 21 with three 3-pointers and Taylor adding 12. Center Kayla Sewell shook off her foul troubles of the night before and added 11 points to the Lady Mustangs’ total.
No South-Doyle player scored more than six points.
Walker Valley 14 16 18 13 — 61
South Doyle 13 3 0 4 — 20
Lady Mustangs (61) — Jordan Spangler 21, Allen 6, Kayla Sewell 11, Taylor Neuharth 12, Terpstra 3, Stepp 3, Sotuyo 2, Black, Liner 3, Macon.
Lady Cherokees (20) — Locke, Gale, Stanley 2, Mikels 4, Thomas 2, Ketron 6, Bryan 6, Jackson, Beeler.
3-pointers: Walker Valley 7 (Jordan Neuharth 3, Taylor Neuharth, Stepp, Liner); South-Doyle 3 (Ketron 2, Beeler).
Records: Walker Valley 10-1; South-Doyle 1--12.
Walker Valley 9 11 23 18 — 61
Anderson Co. 18 12 16 24 — 70
Mustangs (61) — Drew Zaleta 20, Hunter, Jahmal Johnson 19, Franklin 4, Hysinger 8, Lowe 2, Brownfield 2, Cartwright, Savage 6.
Anderson Co. (70) —Hicks 5, Knox 2, Lynch 8, Oaks 5, Tanner Jones 15, Ross Cannon 11, Alan Holt 24.
3-pointers: Walker Valley 7 (Zaleta 3, Johnson 2, Savage 2); Anderson Co. 8 (Holt 4, Jones 2, Hicks, Oaks).
Records: Walker Valley 2-8; Anderson County 6-7.