MURFREESBORO — For just over two quarters, the Walker Valley game plan worked well against Siegel. The Mustangs matched the momentum swings predicted by head coach Bob Williams, held their ground against the Stars and seemed poised at halftime for an upset of the Region 4 champions in sectional basketball action at Siegel High School Tuesday night.
The Stars (31-1) changed all that in the third quarter with an outburst the Mustangs (23-11) were unable to match. An eight-point run by Siegel widened a two-point lead to 10, and the Mustangs were never able to regain the early energy, eventually falling to the Stars 69-41.
“Our game plan was to slow it down a little bit just to get a feel of the game and see what they looked like. We had never played against them and we wanted to see exactly what they had,” said Williams. “They have so many weapons. They just kept coming after us and coming after us.” ”
Williams was mainly refering to the 1-2 punch of Siegel’s Charles Clark and Aden Burton who poured in 25 and 22 points for the Stars, who lost in the semifinals last year and have seen state tournament action in seven of the 11 years the school has existed.
The Mustangs came out with the intention of deliberately slowing down the Stars to get a feel for the never before seen adversary. The tactic worked well for Walker Valley in the early going, with the teams swapping the lead five times in the first half. Trouble from the free-throw line and only two field goals for Walker Valley in the second quarter hobbled the Mustangs offensively. Logan Melton’s 3-pointer and Austin Harwood’s driving layup kept Walker Valley within a point with 5:48 left in the first half. The Mustangs stayed close in spite of making only 8-of-16 shots from the line while trying unsuccessfully to fend off a barrage of 3s by the Stars. Siegel scored its final 15 point of the half from behind the arc.
“The first half it was working pretty good. We gave up some open 3s in our zone defense because we weren’t closing out good,” said Williams. “But you’ve got to make your free throws, especially in a game like this. They are always important, but in a game like this they are really important.”
The Mustangs, after the 3-point Siegel salvo, still trailed by just eight points at halftime, 28-20.
Lukas Korn, who led the Mustangs with 12 points, opened the third quarter with a basket underneath, sparking a 6-0 run that closed the gap to 28-26 with 6:45 left. Two minutes later, the Mustangs — who had matched momentum swings with Siegel in the first half — found themselves down 36-26 after the Stars converted numerous Walker Valley turnovers into points.
The Stars built a 15-point advantage with just over three minutes left in the third and never looked back, continuing to open the gap in the final eight minutes to win going away.
“I told the guys it was going to be a game of momentum swings and we just had to try and withstand it and try to fight through; when they have a little surge, we have to answer. The first half was great. The second half we came out and started the third quarter good and cut it to two. Then the momentum swung again and we just didn't have an answer for that last one they had,” said Williams.
“The guys gave a great effort. Im proud of the seniors and I hate for it to end like that. But they can be proud of what they accomplished this year.”
STARS 69, MUSTANGS 41
Walker Valley 7 13 14 7 — 41
Siegel 8 20 21 20 — 69
Walker Valley (41) Lukas Korn 12, Nunnelly 7, Harwood 7 Crews 7, L. Melton 6, Jones 1, Swafford 1, Herd, Morrow, Russell, Williams, Montgomery, Hunt, C. Melton, Eslinger.
Siegel (69) — Charles Clark 25, Aden Burton 22, Jones 8, McGee 7, Eddings 3, Gooch 2, Lyons 2, Roberts, Normand, Howse, LaLance, Wilkerson, Turner.
3-point goals: Walker Valley 2 (L. Melton, Crews); Siegel 7 (Burton 4, Clark 2, Eddings).
Records: Walker Valley 23-11; Siegel 31-1.