SPARTA — The Walker Valley Lady Mustangs’ journey to White County for the Region 3-AAA Tournament opening round resulted in a 59-47 loss, but the score paints a misleading picture of the overall game.
“It was an awesome game. They played their hearts out. I don’t have a problem in the world with how they played or the energy they played with,” declared Walker Valley Head Coach Jessica Stone.
White County (22-7) now advances to face District 5-AAA champion Bradley Central (23-5) in the region semifinals Monday at Cookeville High School.
After having won the District 6-AAA regular season, the Warriorettes finished second in the district tournament after Cumberland County handed them a 52-47 loss in the championship game, which was their first loss in 11 games.
Despite having defeated the hosts 79-64 in a preseason Hall of Fame game, the 5-AAA third place Lady Mustangs knew they were riding into White County to face a tough competitor, but seemed unphased at the start of the game.
The Warriorettes won the tip-off and struck first with a basket 40 seconds into the game, but a 3-pointer by sophomore Kat Alomar, who finished with a team-high 17 points, shortly afterward gave Walker Valley a one-point lead.
The teams traded baskets and the lead for the next six minutes, until another trey by Alomar tied things up at 13.
With 40.1 seconds left in the first quarter, another 3-point bomb by Alomar gave the Lady Mustangs the advantage, which was cut to just one point following a basket by Bella Taylor 20 seconds later.
Senior Lyndsey Macon drew a foul with four tenths of a second remaining on the clock and gave Walker Valley a 17-15 lead to end the first.
The Warriorettes started off the second quarter by going on an 11-point unanswered run, which was boosted by three treys by Emilee Howard, Amber Hudgens and Kelsey Roberts.
White County’s run was broken up by a pair of free throws by Alomar with just under three minutes left in the half.
Macon was able to chip in a basket and two more points from the charity stripe before the clock ran out on the second quarter.
Following a paltry six-point quarter, the Lady Mustangs found themselves trailing the Warriorettes 30-23 at the half.
Walker Valley attempted to regain their stride in the second half, putting up 11 points to White County’s eight points in the third quarter.
The Lady Mustangs cut their deficit to just four points, 32-28 about three minutes into the third, following two baskets by DJ Mowery and a point by Alomar.
After a traveling call led to another White County basket, senior Victoria Jones hit her first 3-pointer of the night 15 seconds later, closing the gap to three.
The hosts were able to add four more points before time ran out, and a 3-pointer by Jaclyn Griffith in the final minutes of the quarter made it a four point, 38-34 ball game going into the final quarter.
Thirty seconds into the fourth, a steal and following basket by Alomar made it a two-point game.
Unfortunately for the Lady Mustangs, that was the close as they would come to staging a comeback win.
“We brought it to [within] four in the fourth quarter twice, then we lose somebody in transition, and give up a 3 or a basket and then bring the ball down and turn it over, giving up another basket. They went on a little run and then we started fouling,” Stone explained.
The Warriorettes hit back-to-back 3-pointers thanks to the efforts of Hudgens and Howard.
Macon chipped in two more baskets to make it a 44-40 game, but White County quickly added four more points to their lead.
A 3-pointer by Jones followed by a free throw by Alomar cut the Lady Mustangs deficit to four points once again, keeping their team in the game with 1:50 left.
Hudgens hit another 2-point field goal 30 seconds later, making it a six-point game.
With only 1:15 remaining, foul trouble proved devastating to Walker Valley, as the Warriorettes were able to add nine more points from the free throw line.
With a final score of 59-47, the Lady Mustangs saw their season come to a close with an overall record of 19-12.
While Coach Stone saw areas that could’ve been handled better, overall she couldn’t be disappointed in her team.
“We could have done better in finding our man in transition ‘D’ and then we had seven turnovers in the fourth quarter. I thought we rebounded fairly well, and then they battled all night long and played as hard as they could. I’ll never be disappointed when they go out and play as hard as they can,” Stone commented.
The Lady Mustangs’ winning season was only made better for Stone by the signing of all three of her senior players.
“The best thing for me is that all three of my seniors are going on to play ball in college,” she stated. “[Lyndsey] Macon is going to AUM, Vic [Victoria Jones] is going to Tennessee Wesleyan to play basketball and then Rachel Percy is going to Tennessee Wesleyan to play softball. I’m sad that I don’t get to be their coach anymore, but I’m excited for their futures.”
Macon finished the game with 11 points, while Jones and Griffith each hit two 3-pointers for a total of six points apiece.
Region 3-AAA Girls Tournament
Walker Valley 17 6 11 13 — 47
White County 15 15 8 21 — 59
LADY MUSTANGS (47) — Kat Alomar 17, Lyndsey Macon 11, Jones 6, Griffith 6, Mowery 4, Spann 3, Percy, Patel, Cox, P. Davis, White, C. Davis, Way.
WARRIORETTES (59) — Bella Taylor 14, Amber Hudgens 10, Emilee Howard 10, Foster 9, Roberts 7, Quillen 5, Lewis 3, Johnson 1, Pryor, Jones, H. Howard, Luna, Cash, Brown.
3-point goals: Walker Valley 7 (Alomar 3, Griffith 2, Jones 2); White County 7 (Hudgens 2, E. Howard 2, Roberts, Foster, Quillen).
Records: Walker Valley 19-12 ; White Co. 22-7.