CHATTANOOGA — The Walker Valley girls had one final task to take care of before heading into the Christmas basketball tournament tour schedule — and it was a formidable one.
The Lady Mustangs (3-6) matched skills against Girls Preparatory School (10-1) Monday night and limped back to Charleston after being battered 73-36 by the Bruisers.
“They are a very talented team, and senior laden. Going into it our girls didn’t have very much confidence because they knew how good they (GPS) are. Trying to build our girls up before the game even started was a task in itself,” said Lady Mustangs coach Jessica Stone. “So, we set goals for ourselves that didn’t have anything to do with the score. It was a learning game for these girls.”
Jaclyn Griffith and Jessica Stepp put the only points on the board for the Lady Mustangs in the first quarter with 3-pointers. The Bruisers scored the final 13 points of the period to lead 18-6 at the buzzer.
The GPS scoring juggernaut piled more coal on the fire in the second quarter building a 31-8 lead. The lady Mustangs reached double figures midway through the period with a Stepp jump shot. The Bruisers closed out the half with a 9-1 run to lead 42-11 at halftime.
“(I told them at halftime) to work on personal things we want to work on to get better — rebounding better, talking better on defense, things that they can do, stuff they have control over,” said Stone.
Stepp put the Lady Mustangs on the board first in the third quarter with a 3-pointer from the right wing and dropped in another seconds later. With 5:53 left on the third-quarter clock, Lindsey Sotuyo’s 2-pointer for the Lady Mustangs with 4:11 on the clock put the 11th point up for Walker Valley — equaling the entire first-half scoring output. It would be the final points of the quarter for Walker Valley. On the other end of the court, GPS heated the strings up for 21 points and sat on a 63-23 cushion.
Jaclyn Griffith opened the final eight minutes for the Lady Mustangs with five-straight points to make it 63-28. With a plethora of fresh faces on the floor for Walker Valley, Griffith added a 3 with just over two minutes left and Stepp added a final 3-pointer. Isabella Liner tossed in one last basket to make the final score 73-36.
With all but the final score virtually decided by the half, Stone used the final two quarters to work on different sets with different lineups in an effort to get as much playing time for as many girls as possible.
“We’ve been working on our zone offenses. One of the things I asked them after the game, ‘What did you learn this game? If you will learn things right you will get stuff.’ They know we (the coaches) will never be mad if they miss a shot. They are going to get better every game. Hopefully, get more confidence every game,” said Stone.
BRUISERS 73, LADY MUSTANGS 36
Walker Valley 6 5 12 13 — 36
GPS 19 23 21 10 — 73
Walker Valley (36) — Jessica Stepp 14, Jaclyn Griffith 11, Watson 4, Sotuyo 4, Liner 2, Davis 1, Macon, Lawhorn, Percy, Brumfield.
GPS (73) — Chadarryl Clay 20, Simone Busby 11, Brianna Farris 11, Jeneh Perry 10, Williams 6, Bandy 6, Kemp 5, Crownover 4, Fernandez, Spears, Morgan, Jackson.
3-point goals: Walker Valley 7 (Stepp 4, Griffith 3); GPS 6 (Clay 4, Farris 2).
Records: Walker VAlley 3-6; GPS. 10-1.