Advocate staff photo by HEATHER McCLELLAND Walker's Jamie Gibson gets inside the Denham Springs defense during a game Feb. 6. Gibson is looking to build on a strong junior season as she leads an experienced Wildcats team.

Walker High School’s Jamie Gibson had a breakout basketball season as a junior.

After averaging eight points and five rebounds per game as a sophomore, Gibson averaged 18 points and nine rebounds as a junior to help the Wildcats set a school record for wins (31) and advance to the Class 5A quarterfinals.

Gibson’s play last season was rewarded with first-team All-District 4-5A and All-Metro honors as well as second-team all-state.

“Jamie Gibson really improved from her sophomore to junior seasons,” Walker coach Korey Arnold said. “I’m expecting the same kind of improvement for her senior year.

“She’s a very versatile player and could play all five spots for us. She can post up and hit the 3-pointer. She can handle the ball and is pretty athletic.”

Walker returns three starters from its 31-5 team, including the 5-foot-10 Gibson, Keeona Brown and 5-11 Bailey Stears. Kacie Fountain, a transfer senior point guard from Northshore High in Slidell, is another player to watch this season.

“Bailey is very long and athletic,” Gibson said. “She can shoot the ball and is very fast on defense. Kacie will help us a lot. She sees the floor and can drive in traffic and make the pass.”

Gibson said she enjoys playing in Walker’s up-tempo offense.

“We play fast and have fun,” she said. “I want to be a good senior leader for the team. I plan to be very vocal this season. I plan to adjust my offensive game to what the defense gives me. If they overplay me, I’ll drive the ball.”

Gibson was Walker’s best free-throw shooter. She hit 87 percent from the line, including two shots in the closing seconds to lift Walker to a 51-49 victory over Livingston Parish rival Denham Springs. DSHS, which advanced to the Class 5A semifinals, won the District 4-5A title with an 11-1 record, while Walker was second at 10-2.

Walker had two 11-game winning streaks last season. Walker’s season ended with a 57-55 quarterfinal loss to Destrehan, the state runner-up. Walker turned the ball over in the closing seasons and Destrehan hit a layup with three seconds left.

“That playoff loss has really motivated our team to work even harder,” Gibson said. “We gained a lot of confidence last season. Coach Arnold knows how to motivate us. We’re excited about the upcoming season and have high expectations.”

Gibson does more than score. She averaged three assists, two steals and two blocked shots. She’s the last line of defense on Walker’s press. This summer, she played AAU with Arlington Swoosh out of Texas. That experience led to challenging practice sessions and different AAU foes.

“Jamie will probably play a wing in college,” Arnold said. “She’s a really strong player and is highly motivated.”