The Mustangs closed out the night with a solid effort from the field and free-throw line to pick up a much needed 61-54 win over the Eagles, their first of 2013.
“I’m not sure how many 3s we shot in the first half, but we made five. We told them we didn’t think we could win shooting 3s, we needed to do other things. We only shot 10 in the second half and they made seven. That helped,” said current Lady Mustang coach Jessica Stone.
“It’s easy to shoot 3s. It’s easy to stand out there and shoot 3s. We are trying to get them to learn the difference between an open shot and a contested shot and they are getting better at it.”
The 3-point field goals did not come often for the Lady Mustangs in the first quarter. Jaclyn Griffith and Wendi Watson hit the only 3s for Walker Valley. The Lady Eagles matched the output and led 12-8 at the end of the first period.
Same song, second verse in the second quarter.
Victoria Jones and Peyton Davis scored from behind the line and Watson added her second 3 for the Lady Mustangs. Again, the Lady Eagles, who fought through a continuous press from Walker Valley, matched 3s and added four more points to lead 25-22 at halftime.
“We were going to pressure them the whole game and we knew they play zone (defense). We worked on our zone stuff the past two days. We worked on zone over and over and over again,” Stone said of Walker Valley’s defensive strategy.
“I told them the first half, as far as our press was concerned to be choosy and picky about when to go trap. The second half I told them we needed more traps and be more aggressive. I thought they did a good job. The biggest thing with that is we get to fouling.”
Davis kick started the Lady Mustangs into the lead with back-to-back 3-pointers to open the third quarter. The Lady Eagles responded to tie the game at 30-30 and moved on to a 39-32 lead late in the period. Kathy Alomar pitched in with her first 3 to cut the Rhea lead 39-35 before the Lady Eagles recovered to take a 41-35 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Davis started things off once again with another 3 — one of four on the night — that sparked a string of three straight from behind the arc with Griffith and Watson completing the trifecta. Jones added one more with 3:38 left to play to put the Lady Mustangs out front 49-48. Free throws by Watson and Jones in the final minute sealed the win.
The Lady Eagles missed a final 3-point shot that would have tied the game with one second left.
Davis and Watson shared high scoring honors for the Lady Mustangs with 12 points apiece. Victoria Jones added 10 to the total.
“We’re rolling. It started against Bradley. It’s a great time of the year to be rolling. It’s our energy, our bench is so much more into it. Just the whole demeanor of our girls right now is different than it has been. They’re excited,” said Stone. “This was a great win. Rhea is a great ball club and they are well coached. This is great for our girls’ confidence.”
The Mustangs may not have played 3-point basketball like the Lady Mustangs, but the little things head coach Bob Williams said needed to be done, got done and Walker Valley walked away with the Mustangs’ first win of 2013.
“I knew Rhea would be a tough place to play, it always is,” Williams said afterward. “It was important for us to do the little things and trust each other. We needed to do all the little things that add up to wins. We haven’t been doing those. Tonight we shot free throws better. We did a better job rebounding. (Lukas) Korn was blocking some shots. We were doing the little things.”
One of the little things, free throws counted for 18 points for Walker Valley. Three of the 24 attempts came at critical moments for the Mustangs in the waning seconds of the game.
Williams said the confidence gained at the free-throw line translated into confidence gained on the floor at the right times.
“We’ve not been shooting free throws very well. Tonight they were so important,” he said. “Demeanor, body language, everything is up when your are making your free throws and making your shots. Tucker (Godfrey) hit a big shot, Gabe (Cartwright) hit a shot outside and Mel (Logan Melton) hit a big 3.That solves a lot of ills, hitting some shots and we’ve not been shooting the ball very well.”
The Mustangs needed all the confidence they could muster early in the game as the Eagles took a 12-11 lead after one quarter of play.
Tucker Godfrey opened the second with a 3, Gabe Cartwright closed it with a 3 and in between, Caio Hysinger tossed in his second of the game to help the Mustangs pull out to a 28-21 lead at halftime.
Godfrey fishished with 12 points for the Mustangs. Hysinger led the way with 15 and Jackson Brownfield contributed 10.
Walker Valley owned a 30-22 lead early in the third quarter, but the cushion deflated to a two-point lead in 43 seconds with a 7-0 Rhea County run. The Mustangs recovered in time to regain control and scored nine of the quarter’s final 13 points. Walker Valley held a 41-35 lead at the beginning of the fourth.
Melton’s 3 with just over a minute gone in the period gave the Mustangs their first double-digit lead at 46-35. Defensively, Walker Valley held off the determined Eagles who closed the gap to 58-53 with 43 seconds left to play. Brownfield’s free throws with 39 second to go slammed the door on any chance of a Rhea County comeback.
“It was very physical. Rhea came after us hard. Jack (Jackson Brownfield) and Korn and Swafford did a good job inside,” said Williams.
“We needed a win bad. We’ve had so many close games lately. I told the guys we haven’t won in 2013, it’s only our third game but we needed something positive to happen after those tough losses last week.”
LADY MUSTANGS 54, LADY EAGLES 51
Walker Valley 8 14 13 19 — 54
Rhea County 12 13 16 10 — 51
Walker Valley (54) — Peyton Davis 12, Wendi Watson 12, Victoria Jones 10, Grifith 7, Alomar 7, Macon 4, Percy 2, Pitner, Beavers, Mowery.
Rhea County (51) — Brown 15, Levi 12, Loden 4, Revis 3, Miles 2, Wallis 7, Thurman 3, Thompson 5, Freeman, Purser.
3-point goals: Walker Valley 12 (Davis 4, Watson 3, Jones 2, Griffith 2, Alomar); Rhea County 7 (Levi 3, Revis, Brown, Wallis, Thompson).
Records: Walker Valley 8-11, 3-4 District 5-AAA; Rhea County 14-6, 3-4.
MUSTANGS 61, EAGLES 54
Walker Valley 11 17 13 20 — 61
Rhea County 12 9 14 19 — 54
Walker Valley (61) — Caio Hysinger 15, Tucker Godfrey 12, Jackson Brownfield 10, Cartwright 8, Korn 7, Harwood 6, Melton 3, Swafford.
Rhea County (54) — Jalen Smith 29, Nick McWherter 13, Patterson 5, Hall 3, Will 2, Jenkins 2, Harrison, Hunter.
3-point goals: Walker Valley 5 (Hysinger 2, Godfrey, Melton, Cartwright; Rhea County 1 (Smith).
Records: Walker Valley 10-8, 2-5 District 5-AAA; Rhea County 5-13, 1-6.