After scoring 18 points in a fast-paced first quarter, the Walkersville High School girls basketball team’s offense stalled and it scored just 27 points during final 24 minutes of play. But the Lions held on for a 45-44 victory against host Oakdale Tuesday night.
Following a 17-point first half by Bears forward Erica Buls that helped Oakdale to a 27-27 halftime tie, Walkersville (13-3) limited their opponent to just 17 points in the second half — five by Buls came on free throws — to offset a sluggish offensive performance marred by numerous turnovers and missed opportunities to earn a two-game sweep of the home squad.
“Defense, we did a great job all night,” Walkersville coach Mike Mathis said. “The key with them is putting pressure on their guards. They’ve got a great inside game. Buls played really well tonight and the other kid [Elizabeth] Moorman had a good game, but we did a great job of putting pressure on their guards and making it hard for them to get it inside. I was very pleased with our perimeter defense.
“Any time you can turn the ball over the like we did and miss as many free throws as we did in the second half and still find a way to grind it out in conference, I’m tickled to death.”
Both teams actually did an excellent job defensively in the third quarter as they combined for 14 points in that eight-minute span. The Bears held Walkersville scoreless for much of the quarter to take a 33-30 lead, but a 3-pointer by Haley Bauer with 33 seconds remaining and a fastbreak layup by Tyra Hughes, who finished with 14 points, six rebounds, five steals and four assists, gave the Lions a 35-33 lead heading into the final quarter.
“That was huge,” Oakdale coach Rob Healy said. “We were playing some gritty defense and give them credit, they did too. It was one of the slug-fests back and forth. Neither team could put something together. I remember it was 33-30 for awhile and we just couldn’t get a bucket. Give them credit defensively.”
On the strength of two baskets by Lana Long (13 points), the Lions eased out to a 41-38 lead with 2 minutes, 3 seconds left and that advantage grew to as much as four points a minute later on a 3-pointer from the top of the arc by Chasyln Derexson (13 points), who found herself wide open on the play.
“We had to play better defense because our offense wasn’t that great,” Long said.
Oakdale closed to within one by making five of its six free throws in the final 1:18, including a pair by Natalie Galaviz, who stole a pass from Hughes and was subsequently fouled by Hughes on a fastbreak layup attempt. After a missed free throw by the Lions, Healy called timeout to set up a play, but a switch from a man-to-man defense to a 2-3 zone by Walkersville forced Galaviz, not Buls or another starter, to take the final shot that just rimmed out.
Hughes grabbed the rebound and ran out the clock.
Walkersville 45, Oakdale 44
Walkersville 18 9 8 10 — 45
Oakdale 13 14 6 11 — 44
Walkersville (13-3): Tyra Hughes 14, Lana Long 13, Chaslyn Derexson 13, Bre Nolen 2, Haley Bauer 3.
Oakdale (9-7): Erica Buls 22, Elizabeth Moorman 12, Kayla Holman 2, Cameron Pitts 4, Taylor McGaughey 2, Natalie Galaviz 2.