BATON ROUGE -- Walker was quickly out of the blocks, sprinting to another fast start and decisive victory on Wednesday, this time 48-36 over rival Denham Springs High.
It’s the exact recipe Wildcats coach Anthony Schiro has tried to maintain throughout his team’s appearance in the Woodlawn High Summer League.
“What we’re looking for is to play good defense, be in the spots we’re supposed to be in and I thought we did a good job of that early,” Schiro said. “I thought we played pretty well for the most part.”
Walker scored the game’s first 8 points and led by as many as 21 points (41-20) until a late flourish from Denham Springs in the final two minutes.
“When you’re playing a team like Walker, you might make a run or so and then they hit a 3 on the other end,” said Denham Springs coach Kevin Caballero, who played without DJ Williams, Kaydon Berard and Kaleb Drummer, who attended UAB’s football camp. “You get a little fatigued and I thought we did that late. For the most part, I thought our effort was really good.”
Walker’s guard play with Jalen Cook and Keondre Brown was superb with Cook scoring a game-high 17 and Brown, a DSHS transfer, adding 14.
They combined to make 5 of the Wildcats’ 6 3-pointers.
“We moved the ball well early and got some open shots,” Schiro said. “We made some tough shots as well and that’s a testament to having good players. We made some good cuts, set some hard screens and got our guys open for some shots. All in all, it’s a good victory. We did some good things. There were also some things we need to work on.”
Cook and Brown fueled Walker’s early 8-0 run with seven points between them and the Wildcats made their first four shots of the game when Trent Montgomery fed Donald Butler for an inside basket.
Denham Springs closed to 10-7 on a fastbreak lay-up from Xavier Miles, only to have Cook answer with a court-length drive and lay-up at the buzzer for a 12-7 lead.
Brown’s 15-footer ignited a 12-0 run over a three-minute span of the second quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers from Cook and a 15-foot bank shot from Montgomery to make it 26-10 with just under a minute before halftime.
The Wildcats shot 71% (12 of 17) in the opening half and wound up shooting 56% (20 of 36) for the game.
Brown began the third quarter with a 12-foot jumper and took a feed from Montgomery for a 3-pointer from the corner for a 33-13 advantage.
Walker outscored DSHS 10-1 over the first 2-plus minutes of the third quarter with Cook adding a runner in the lane and Brown another 3-pointer with an assist from Cook.
Freshman TJ Magee made a pair of free throws and it was his 3-pointer with 1:57 remaining that gave DSHS its first field goal of the second half.
The Yellow Jackets, who were led by the 7 points of Miles and Micah Banks, were limited to 38% shooting for the game.
“I thought X (Miles) was pressing early, trying to make things happen and also Micah a little bit,” Caballero said. “When you’re missing people, those guys are your returners and they have to step up and take some leadership.”
DSHS went on an 8-0 run to start the final quarter, getting as close as 41-30 with 3:56 left, when Walker regained momentum with consecutive baskets from guard Graham Smith, including a 3-pointer off an assist from Cook.
“A lot of teams try to focus on me, and I just try to get my teammates involved by driving, kicking and playing hard on defense,” Cook said. “That’s how we win games and that’s with teamwork. It’s the whole team.”