Mustangs fend off McMinn Cherokees
by RICHARD ROBERTS Banner Sports Editor
Dec 11, 2013 | 991 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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WALKER VALLEY’S Austin Harwood goes to the basket as McMinn County’s Jaylon Martin defends in the second half during basketball action in “The Stable,” Tuesday night. Banner photo, LYNNAE ROBERTS
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Most coaches will agree there are losses that are considered good losses, when a team puts forth a fight-to-the-finish effort but falls short.

Then there are bad losses, the ones where there is no effort and even less intensity.

Walker Valley girls basketball coach Jessica Stone put Tuesday’s Lady Mustangs’ 60-50 loss to McMinn County squarely in the latter category.

Just the same, there are good wins and bad wins. The Mustangs’ Bob Williams will definitely put Walker Valley’s 55-53 win over the Cherokees in the “good” column.

“The district is so close this year. This is our second two-point district game so far. McMinn played Bradley close last week before Bradley spread it out at the end. McMinn is scrappy and the Marshall kid was hitting some shots from the corners and the new addition they got, (Rob) Saxton, is so athletic. He shot pretty good outside.”

But it was Walker Valley’s Brandon Crews who did the damage for the Mustangs. Crews poured in 14 first-half points including four 3-pointers to lead the Mustangs. He finished with six 3s and 25 points on the night.

“We were trying to get him the ball because he was shooting good. The guys were doing a good job of getting him the ball. I thought Dustin (Swafford) did a good job on the inside,” said Williams.

Crews opened the game for the Mustangs with a 3 and added another along with Logan Russell as Walker Valley opened a 17-6 lead heading into the second quarter.

Crews repeated in the second with another 3 and Logan Russell followed with one of his two 3-pointers minutes later to put Walker Valley out front 28-12. Crews lifted in his fourth trey with eight seconds left in the half to give the Mustangs a 31-21 lead at halftime.

Thee-pointer No. 5 from Crews came in the third quarter in what was the offensive low point of the night for Walker Valley. The Mustangs managed only four more points, from Austin Harwood and Lucas Korn while the Cherokees rallied to take their first lead of the night before the Mustangs tied the game at 38-38 just before the end of the quarter.

An all-out offensive shootout followed with the lead swapping hands twice before Crews put the Mustangs out front 45-43 from the free-throw line. Crews’ final 3 of the night put Walker Valley out front 49-44 before a McMinn County 3-pointer made it a 50-49 game in favor of the Mustangs with 1:48 left in the game. Swafford caught the Cherokees sleeping and made it 52-49 on an easy bucket underneath before McMinn again closed the Walker Valley lead to a single point a minute later.

From there, the Mustangs went into stall mode, forcing the Cherokees to send Crews to the free-throw line where he closed out the game hitting 3-of-4 from the line, the final two coming with 11 seconds left to break a 53-53 tie. Defensively, the Mustangs held the Cherokees to only two more points the rest of the way and were able to close out the win.

“It’s still early. We should have had our third district game,” Williams said of the postponed due to a wet gym floor game with Ooltewah. “But I like our effort and the guys are playing hard and they are fun to coach.”

LADY CHEROKEES 60,

LADY MUSTANGS 50

“We got out rebounded, we turned the ball over 19 times, we didn’t hit free throws and there was no urgency on either end of the floor. So, there you go, that’s it,” said a frustrated Stone after the 5-2 Lady Mustangs dropped a 60-50 decision to the 2-6 Lady Cherokees.

“They (McMinn) came to play basketball. They are well coached. They are going to come every night and they are going to bring it. You can’t get pumped up for one game and not be ready to play another game.”

Stone’s exasperation was well founded as the Walker Valley girls did little to slow down the invading Lady Cherokees.

After trailing 12-11 at the end of the first quarter, the Lady Mustangs showed some signs of life in the second and came back to take a 21-20 lead with just over two minutes left in the half and held a 25-23 lead at the break.

The lead lasted all of 15 seconds into the third. McMinn tied it at 25-all and led 35-25 midway through the quarter. The Lady Cherokees held onto the double-digit lead and enjoyed a 47-36 cushion going into the final eight minutes after scoring 24 points in the third quarter.

“There was no energy, there was no urgency. We just have to do things better. We have to pay attention to detail. We have to do things the way we do them in practice and tonight there was none of that,” said Stone.

The Lady Mustangs attempted to force turnovers with a full-court press. The pressure did little to stem the flow of McMinn points as the Lady Cherokees outscored the Lady Mustangs by one to take the win.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well and there are going to be nights when you don’t. But when you are forcing things and taking contested shots you are not going to shoot the ball well,” said Stone.

“We gave them too many chances on their glass, we’re not boxing out. This is what’s going to happen when you play the way we did tonight. We are just going to work through it.”

The Mustangs have a quick turnaround hitting the road tonight to face the Red Raiders of Baylor. Tip off is at 6 p.m.

LADY CHEROKEES 60,

LADY MUSTANGS 50

McMinn County 12 11 24 13 — 60

Walker Valley 11 14 11 14 — 50

McMinn County (60) — Rachel Burke 13, Ebony Kelley 12, Rachel Simbeck 10, Thompson 8, Wilson 7, Dispensa 5, Robinson 5.

Walker Valley (50) — Victoria Jones 15, Jaclyn Griffith 10, Macon 8, Alomar 8, Mowery 6.

3-point goals: McMinn County 3 (Thompson 2, Wilson); Walker Valley 1 (Griffith).

Records: McMinn County 2-6; Walker Valley 5-2.

MUSTANGS 55, CHEROKEES 53

McMinn County 6 15 17 15 — 53

Walker Valley 17 14 7 17 — 55

McMinn County (55) — Rob Saxton 19, Luke Marshall 12, Armstrong 7, Martin 5, Hammonds 4, Simpson 4, Edgemon 2, Spradling, Brown.

Walker Valley (55) — Brandon Crews 25, Russell 8, L. Melton 6, Swafford 6, Harwood 4, Korn 2, Jones, Herd, Williams..

3-point goals: McMinn County 7 (Marshall 4, Saxton 3); Walker Valley 9 (Crews 6, Russell 2, Melton).

Records: McMinn County 2-5; Walker Valley 3-3.