MAUREPAS – At first glance, the score of Walker’s win over French Settlement looks a bit lopsided in the Lady Cats’ favor.
But Walker coach Hannah Jones said there’s plenty her team can learn from its 65-39 win over the Lady Lions in the Livingston Parish Tournament on Wednesday.
“That was a great team,” Jones said. “They exposed us to things we’ve got to work on.
“I don’t want them to look at the record and say, ‘Oh, we’ll win,’” Jones said of the fast start. “No. Every team we play is going to be capable of beating us. It doesn’t matter who we play. French Settlement – great team. They are fighters from the start of the game to the very end. They’ve shown that. They were fighting the whole game. If we would have come out thinking we’ve got this. They would have blown us out. I wanted to remind them that they’re going to beat you if you don’t come out hard playing every possession together.”
That came after Walker’s Tiara Young scored 14 of her 27 points as the Lady Cats opened a 23-5 lead in the first quarter.
Young’s scoring spree started innocently enough with a layup, but the Lady Cats soon gained their footing as their pressure defense forced FSHS into a flurry of turnovers – and baskets for Walker.
Young’s 3-pointer put Walker up 7-0 before Serenity Smith hit a jumper for French Settlement’s first basket of the game.
“When we come out firing like that, we’ve just got to know that we’ve got to keep going,” Young said. “We’ve got to play like that all four quarters.”
Young connected on another 3-pointer, and Delaney Anderson completed a three-point play which extended the lead to 18-2.
“She does everything for them,” FSHS coach Daniel Martin said of Young. “She handles the ball. She can shoot it. She can attack. She does everything for them. We went to the box-and-one. We went to it too late.”
Smith’s 3-pointer was FSHS’ only other basket of the quarter as Walker led 23-5 going into the second quarter.
Young had a putback to extend the lead to 32-9 before Smith’s 3-pointer. Walker led 35-13 at halftime on MeKayla Rothman’s jumper.
“We had to change things up defensively a little bit,” Martin said. “We’ve got to do a better job of stepping over. We swiped at the ball too much.”
Smith had 10 of French Settlement’s points in the first half and led FSHS with 15 points in the game, while the Lady Cats held FSHS’ Dannah Martin scoreless in the opening half.
“We didn’t get very many touches to her in the first half,” Daniel Martin said of his daughter. “We didn’t do a great job of moving the ball. I thought Serenity did a good job scoring for us in the first half, but we’ve got to move the ball and we’ve got to do a better job setting screens and getting her open. We’ll bounce back.”
Dannah Martin, who finished with 13 points, didn’t hit her first basket until roughly five minutes remained in the third quarter, cutting the lead to 42-18. She followed with a pair of 3-pointers and a two-point basket from long range, which made the score 47-26.
“They have girls that can shoot,” Jones said. “We wanted to stop that. We knew if they got off to a shooting start, it would be a battle to the end, so we had to mix up defenses, which is good for us because we’ve got to learn more, but I think our girls who matched up and played man-to-man, they did well. Then our girls who were playing that triangle, they worked together and they helped out.”
Walker led 53-28 going into the fourth quarter before Smith’s layup cut the lead to 55-34.
From there, Candace Ellis hit a pair of 3-pointers, helping stretch the advantage to 60-34. Ellis finished with nine points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter.