Class 1A: Holmes County Outlasts Hawthorne, 51-48
Tue. February 26, 2013 at 1:18 p.m. | By Bill Kemp
By BILL KEMP
LEDGER MEDIA GROUP
LAKELAND | Chris Walker didn't play the best game of his career but he still finished with a triple-double and landed his team in the state championship game.
The 6-foot-9 Holmes County center and Florida Gators signee scored 20 points with 13 rebounds and 13 blocked shots to push the Blue Devils to a 51-48 Class 1A state semifinals win against Hawthorne at the Lakeland Center Tuesday. He even sank a 15-foot jumper a split-second after tying his shoe in heavy game traffic.
Holmes County (19-8) will advance to meet West Gadsden (25-9) in the state championship game Wednesday at 4:35 p.m.
"Our post player, he played OK, but he didn't play like he normally is playing. Not like he had in the last couple of weeks," Holmes County head coach Poe White said. "In order for us to have a chance tomorrow he has to show up and perform like he is capable of doing."
Holmes County jumped out to a 25-16 halftime lead and then hung on when Hawthorne, last year's Class 1A state runners-up, smothered the floor in the second half with constant barrage of full-court pressure.
The Hornets (28-2) outscored Holmes County 18-9 in the third quarter to narrow the Blue Devils' lead to 34-32.
"That's kind of what got us here was the full-court pressure," Hawthorne head coach Greg Bowie said. "The first half we played kind of soft and in the second half we kind of turned up the pressure and created a few turnovers and got out in the open court."
Holmes County immediately went to Walker to open the fourth quarter and he delivered with five of the period's first seven points to rebuild the lead to 41-32 after converting on a three-point play.
"Our guys feed off of what he does. If he comes out there and plays hard and performs, then those guys are going to play twice as hard," White said, and added the Hawthorne's press rattled the Blue Devils' offensive flow.
"We started getting in a rush. We have to take our time and have better ball movement. We have to stay focused all 32 minutes of the ballgame. They came and got within one, so when things like that happen we try to go to our go-to guy. (When) we have to have a bucket, we're not going to take a 3. We're going to go inside to Chris Walker and hoping that he finishes for us."
Hawthorne dwindled Holmes County's lead back down to 49-48 when Bryson Pittman canned a 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining in the game but the Blue Devils hung on for the win.
Walker had six blocks in the first half and seven more in the second half. White said his inside presence allowed the Blue Devils to spread the floor defensively.
"What we do is extend our defense out on the perimeter because we have Chris Walker in the middle," White said. "He is responsible for lane to lane and sometimes the free-throw line. If we get beat off the dribble we don't worry about it because we have this monster in there to block shots."
HOLMES COUNTY (51) – Jacky Miles 1-4 9-15 12, Clayton Keen 0-7 2-2 2, Christopher Walker 9-17 2-4 20, Kolton Russ 3-10 2-2 8, Jonathon Williams 1-2 2-2 5, Britian Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Cason Moore 0-1 0-0 0, Seth Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Christopher Newton 2-2 0-3 4.
HAWTHORNE (48) – Bryson Pittman 1-4 0-0 3, Leamon Wilson 2-8 0-0 4, Jayquan Hamilton 4-11 1-3 11, Nicholas Chisholm 1-8 0-0 2, Edward Porter 6-15 4-6 16, Charlie Thomas 0-1 0-0 0, Deandre Turner 3-4 0-1 7, Montayvious McKinnon 0-2 0-0 0, Tony Ivey 0-0 0-0 0, Dionte Mann 2-8 1-2 5.
Holmes County 11 14 9 19 – 51
Hawthorne 4 12 16 16 – 48
3-Point Field Goals: HC 2-12 (Miles 1-2, Keen 0-5, Russ 0-4, Williams 1-1), HW 3-15 (Pittman 1-1, Hamilton 2-5, Chisholm 0-5, Thomas 0-1, Turner 0-1, McKinnon 0-2). Technical Fouls: HC 1 (Walker). Fouled Out: None. Rebounds: HC 46 (Miles 10, Keen 4, Walker 13, Russ 6, Williams 5, Moore 1, Newton 2), HW 32 (Pittman 2, WIlson 2, Hamilton 6, Chisholm 2, Porter 7, Turner 4, Mann 3). Records: Holmes County 19-8, Hawthorne 28-2.