No. 3 SWEETWATER WILDCATS 51, WALKER VALLEY MUSTANGS 45
Earlier in the season, Walker Valley handed Sweetwater an overtime loss at home, one of the Wildcats only two defeats this season. The Wildcats handled the rematch well on Thursday and held on for a big win on Walker Valley’s senior night.
Sweetwater started off strong with layups from Austin Long and Kolbe Billingsley, and Matthew Kile and Dominique Oggs quickly got on the board with layups themselves. A 3-point play from Noah Duprey and a layup by Luke Wallace helped Walker Valley cut into the lead, but a 3-pointer by Billingsley quieted the crowd.
Another shot by Long and one by Kile helped the Wildcats stay ahead, and despite another Duprey layup, the Cats led 16-10 after one quarter in what would prove to be a tough defensive battle.
The Walker Valley defense got Sweetwater out of sorts in the second quarter, and the Wildcats only points came from a layup by Oggs and a jumper by Billingsley. The rest of the quarter was controlled by the Mustangs, who got scoring from five different players including a steal and dunk by Duprey that put Walker Valley on top at halftime 21-20.
The two teams traded buckets and the lead throughout the third quarter. Billingsley sank two straight shots for Sweetwater and Long added a layup, but Wallace and Duprey on the other end matched Sweetwater shot for shot. A resounding dunk gave Duprey the go-ahead points late in the quarter, but a nearly-half court shot by Kile at the buzzer fell true for the Wildcats, handing them a 30-29 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.
Down by one, the Wildcats took advantage of Walker Valley fouls and converted from the free throw line to take the lead. Alex Duke and Blake Campbell sank shots for the Mustangs to keep the game close in the final minutes, but a 3-point play from Billingsley and a layup by Oggs helped extend the Sweetwater lead to 44-40. Oggs made another shot, however, and with one minute remaining he stole the ball from the Mustangs and converted on the other end to give Sweetwater a 48-42 lead. The Mustangs started fouling, and though Jordan Munck made a 3-pointer at the end of the game, it was not enough and the Wildcats escaped with a 6-point win on the road.
Kolbe Billingsley led the way with a game-high 19, and Dominique Oggs added 13. Noah Duprey was the only Mustang in double figures with 15.
WALKER VALLEY LADY MUSTANGS 41, SWEETWATER LADY CATS 39, OT
Early 3-pointers by Laney Harris and Mauren Baker helped Walker Valley out to a hot start, but the Lady Cats hung tough with layups from Madison Robinson and Mikalee Martin. A free throw to end the first period gave Walker Valley the 9-6 lead early.
Sweetwater briefly claimed the lead on baskets by Trinity Upton and Martin, and held the lead with a layup by Abbey Barr, but the Lady Mustangs had an answer. Madison Rue put in two straight shots and Harris sank another 3-pointer to give Walker Valley the 18-13 lead after the first half.
Walker Valley came out with new fire in the second half. The Lady Mustangs limited Sweetwater to one field goal in the period as they continued to score. Harris added a layup and a 3-pointer and Kyndall Gibson chipped in a trey as the lead continued to grow, and Michele Benson added two layups at the end of the period to give Walker Valley its biggest lead at 33-17.
Mari Robbins opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer for Sweetwater, and Barr added a layup before Robbins chipped in two free throws. Just like that, the lead was down to 9.
Barr and Robbins converted from the free throw stripe to cut even deeper into the lead, and Robinson added back-to-back layups and two free throws.
Despite the surge, Sweetwater still found itself down by two with only 8.5 seconds remaining. Robinson answered the call and found the net, tying the game and sending it into overtime.
A Harris 3-pointer opened the extra period, and Sweetwater never seemed to recover. Barr cut the lead down to 1 with two free throws, but with time remaining, Sweetwater was forced to foul. With a chance to tie and possibly force double overtime, the Lady Cats got one last shot, but none of their efforts found the net and the Lady Mustangs took the close win on their home court.
Robinson led Sweetwater with 9 while Harris led Walker Valley with 17.