WALKER -- Using advantages is always part of the fabric of a game. What makes things even more intriguing is when two teams collide with such different advantages and with some raw emotion mixed in.
The Denham Springs High and Walker girls renewed their rivalry Wednesday night to open District 4-5A play. The styles were contrasting and the intensity high.
As the fourth quarter wound down and the Lady Jackets finally secured a 53-46 victory, it was a matter of Denham’s strength emerging at the right time and for longer.
Tremeeka Spikes scored 20 points and grabbed 8 rebounds and fellow post player Maia Robinson added 17 and 9 as the Lady Jackets’ inside game outlasted the Lady Cats’ feisty backcourt and the constant pressure it applied.
Breanna Zeringue paced Walker (15-8, 0-1 district) with 18 points and Candace Ellis notched 17, with each guard recording 4 assists.
Both teams seized advantage of their strengths for productive bursts that kept the game close for three quarters. A major difference was how much the Lady Cats scuffled with ball security in the face of Denham’s defense.
The Lady Jackets (17-4, 1-0) came up with 23 steals among a whopping 39 Walker turnovers, led by Caroline Taylor’s 7 thefts and 6 from Spikes.
As unsavory as that stat is, Walker coach Korey Arnold said it is indicative of how far his young team needs to grow.
“In the first half, especially in the second quarter, we just didn’t take care of the ball how we need to,” Arnold said. “We’ve got a freshman running at point guard and two sophomores on the court. We’re just babies, and we couldn’t make a pass from Point A to Point B. It sort of snowballed on us and played chase the whole second half.”
Spikes and Robinson were at the eye of that storm.
Walker hung close in the first quarter by nailing 4-of-6 from 3-point range to offset 11 turnovers in the initial 8 minutes. Zeringue and Raven Barze each cranked in a pair of treys as the Lady Cats refused to blink in a 12-12 first period.
When the turnover bug kept biting WHS, Denham started to wear the Lady Cats down. Spikes and Robinson combined for 13 points and reserve big girl Desiree Jones added another bucket as DSHS established a cushion.
The Jackets scored the first six points of the quarter and answered Ellis’ 3-pointer with a 9-2 burst – all 15 points came in the paint, six on second-chance shots.
“That’s our bread-and-butter,” DSHS coach Shelly Laprarie said. “That’s what we’ve always done whether we’re 5-8 or 5-2 in there. (Spikes and Robinson) finished some shots and made some tough catches inside.”
And did a lot of damage, while also dictating the tempo.
With Denham pounding away inside and making shots, Walker wasn’t able to generate fast-break chances. Instead, the Lady Cats coughed the ball up seven times on nine offensive trips before Zeringue finally drove the lane.
The script flipped in the third quarter because mixed in with more turnovers, Walker knocked down some shots and DSHS couldn’t find the bottom of the net.
Taylor swished two free throws after a steal to start the second half and Robinson produced an inside hoop to push the Denham lead to 31-19. After that, though, the Lady Jackets went just 1-for-16 from the floor the rest of the period.
With a window of opportunity propped open, the Lady Cats chipped away. Ellis sandwiched a 3 and a fast-break layup around a feed to Lauren Poole for a transition bucket to whittle the deficit to 33-27.
Walker survived another spate of turnovers when DSHS missed nine shots in a six-possession span and in a blink, Ellis and Zeringue converted steals into hoops and the Lady Jackets’ lead melted to 33-31.
“We created some good looks, got some turnovers and got the tempo where we wanted it,” Arnold said. “That helped us get back into it.”
The Lady Cats had the ball twice with a chance to tie or jump in front, but Spikes came up with a steal and Barze missed a trey. On the other end, Spikes snatched her own miss and scored inside for a 35-31 advantage heading into the final 8 minutes.
Which was when Denham went back to its advantage.
Taylor scored the first three points of the quarter to extend the lead to 38-31 and force Arnold to call a timeout. Spikes hit two free throws, Robinson answered an Ellis driving layup with a nice move in the paint and Payton Chustz turned a second chance into a deuce.
Another Robinson make inside ballooned the lead back to double digits (46-35) and Spikes grabbed control from there with seven unanswered points. She supplied 10 of Denham’s 18 points in the fourth quarter
“You’ve got people pushing under the goal, and you have to try your best to stick shots,” said Spikes, who was 9-for-15 from the floor. Robinson was 7-for-11 while the rest of the Lady Jackets combined to make only 5-of-33 field goals (0-f0r-10 from long range).
“Every time we play Walker it’s a more competitive game than anybody else.”
Walker’s Delaney Anderson and Zeringue buried 3-pointers in the closing 2:10, but the hole proved to be too deep.
“We played hard, but we’re just not a very smart team yet because we’re so young,” Arnold said. “A lot of teams are who they are and won’t change as the season goes on, but I think we have a chance to get better because we’re learning as we go.”
Both teams continue in district play Friday when Denham plays host to Scotlandville (8-10, 1-0) and Walker travels to Zachary (13-8, 1-0).
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Free throws have been a struggle for the Lady Jackets this season, but they were 11-for-15 on Wednesday, 8-f0r-10 in the second half.
- Walker finished with fewer field-g0al attempts (32) than turnovers (39) but shot well -- 16-for-32. The Lady Cats were 8-for-19 from 3-point range and 8-for-13 from inside the arc.
- Barze was the only Walker player besides Zeringue and Ellis who made more than a single field goal. But she was 0-for-5 (all from 3-point territory) after the first quarter.
- Denham recorded 12 assists with five different players notching at least two. Canale led the way with 3.
- Of the Yellow Jackets’ 31 rebounds, 19 were on the offensive end: Spikes had 7, Robinson 4 and Jones 4.
- The diminutive Anderson led Walker with 7 rebounds.
DSHS 53, WALKER 46
DSHS 12 15 8 18 -- 53
Walker 12 7 12 15 -- 46
DSHS (53) -- Christina Canale 0-7 2-2 2, Caroline Taylor 3-14 3-4 9, Kamryn King 0-2 1-2 1, Tremeeka Spikes 9-15 2-2 20, Maia Robinson 7-11 3-5 17, Jayley Clouatre 0-2 0-0, Desiree Jones 1-4 0-0 2, Payton Chustz 1-4 0-0 2, Kate Thompson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-59 11-15 53.
Walker (46) -- Raven Barze 2-7 0-0 6, Breanna Zeringue 7-12 1-2 18, Candace Ellis 5-11 5-6 17, Victoria Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Lauren Pool 1-1 0-0 2, Delaney Anderson 1-1 0-0 3, Asia Garner 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-32 6-8 46.
3-point goals -- DSHS 0-10 (King 0-2, Canale 0-3, Taylor 0-5), Walker 8-19 (Zeringue 3-6, Ellis 2-5, Barze 2-7, Anderson 1-1). Total fouls -- DSHS 12, Walker 12. Fouled out -- Anderson. Records: DSHS 17-4, 1-0 District 4-5A; Walker 15-8, 0-1. Up next: Scotlandville at DSHS, 7 p.m. Friday; Walker at Zachary, 6 p.m.
Randy Rosetta is Sports Editor of The Livingston Parish News.
You can reach him at (225) 610.5507 or RandyR@LivingstonParishNews.com.
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