WALKER -- Progress from the week before had Walker eager to hit the stretch run of the 2016-17 regular season.
Instead, Live Oak halted the Lady Cats’ budding momentum and took an important step in their playoff hopes in the process.
Harmony Johnson scored 15 points and the Lady Eagles ruined Senior Night for Walker, taking a 52-39 win in District 4-5A action.
With Johnson leading the way, the Lady Eagles (18-12, 4-5 District 4-5A) smothered Walker in the first quarter, not allowing a point in the first 6 minutes. Live Oak didn’t muster much offense of its own in the opening period, but still held a 10-4 lead going into the second.
The Lady Eagles kept up the pressure in the second quarter, holding Walker (17-16, 1-8) to just another four points while scoring 16. Johnson had six points, two rebounds and a block in the quarter.
Walker was frustrated throughout the first half, and that frustration boiled over with 19.7 seconds remaining until intermission when Lady Cats’ coach Korey Arnold, upset with the number of fouls called on his team, was called for two technical fouls and ejected.
Live Oak hit all four technical free throws and led 26-8 at halftime.
Johnson said the key for Walker was to keep playing well on the defensive end.
“We just have to continue playing good defense and not get lazy,” she said. “We can’t get lazy and think it’s going to be easy because of the score.”
Live Oak coach Michele Yawn said that even though Johnson doesn’t always get the glory of being a superstar on the team, she is the reason the Lady Eagles are successful.
“I am so proud of Harmony Johnson,” Yawn said. “She is not one of those players that is going to score 30 or 35, but I tell (the other players) that every game they need to thank Harmony, because she gives you second-chance opportunities.
“She gets the ball back for us and gets the rebounds and she is one of the most valuable players that we have.”
After only scoring nine points in the third quarter to fall behind 39-17 going into the fourth, Walker seemed to wake up, even if it was too late.
Krystal Hutchinson, the Lady Cats’ lone senior, led Walker to a 22-point fourth period to close the gap. Hutchinson had 9 points, 2 rebounds and a steal in the quarter to help her team get within 11 points, but could get no closer.
Live Oak hit 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch, allowing the Lady Eagles to walk out with the win.
Along with her 15 points, Johnson had 7 rebounds and 2 blocks for Live Oak. Senior Presley Wascom finished with 12 points and 2 steals, while Carson Felder and Dijone Flowers each had 8 rebounds for the Lady Eagles.
Wascom said keeping up the intensity was a big key.
“We just had to motivate each other to keep playing hard and do the technical stuff right,” Wascom said. “We had to make sure we didn’t get lackadaisical.”
Walker didn’t get much from anyone other than Hutchinson, who finished with a game-high 21 points. She also had 7 rebounds and 3 steals. No one else for Walker scored more than six points.
Walker assistant coach Hannah Fohne, who finished coaching after Arnold was ejected, said after falling behind by so much early, she was happy to see that the Lady Wildcats did not give up.
“We just had to tell our players to play our game and not play the other team’s game,” she said. “We just had to climb back and fight back. We had to get everybody on the same page.”
Fohne also praised Hutchinson after her final home game at Walker.
“She is a great kid and everybody loves her,” Fohne said. “She has been a pleasure to coach.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Live Oak made as many field goals (17) as it did free throws.
- Walker only turned the ball over 15 times in the game while Live Oak had 26.
- Walker standout guard Breanna Zeringue was held in check after picking up three early fouls and finished with just 4 points and 3 rebounds.
- In addition to honoring Hutchinson on Senior Night, Walker also recognized Wascom, Live Oak’s only senior.
LIVE OAK 52, WALKER 39
Live Oak 10 16 13 13 -- 52
Walker 4 4 9 22 -- 39
Live Oak (52) -- Harmony Johnson 15, Presley Wascom 12, Carson Felder 8, Dijone Flowers 8, Zyriah Pink 6, Jamie Elenbaas 3. Totals 17-42 17-30 59.
Walker (39) -- Krystal Hutchinson 21, Raven Barze 6, Candace Ellis 6, Breanna Zeringue 4, Victoria Smith 2. Totals 12-39 11-16 39.
3-point goals -- Live Oak 1 (Wascom 1), Walker 4 (Hutchinson 2, Barze 2). Records: Live Oak 18-12, 4-5 District 4-5A, Walker 17-16, 1-8 District 4-5A. Up next: Live Oak at Zachary, 6 p.m. Friday; Walker at Scotlandville, 6 p.m. Friday.