WALKER — Walker’s defense stepped up in the fourth quarter, holding Zachary to just four points and forcing five turnovers in the final three minutes.
Meanwhile, Baylie Stears scored 12 points and Jamie Gibson 10 to help power Walker to a 47-37 girls basketball victory Tuesday night.
Walker (22-4, 5-1) is tied for the District 4-5A lead with Broadmoor (19-5, 5-1). Zachary (16-9) and Scotlandville are 4-2 in league.
Zachary outscored Walker 13-7 in the second quarter to take a 23-17 halftime lead. The game was tied four times in the third quarter. Zachary’s Kenadi Johnson hit a 12-foot baseline shot at the buzzer as the third quarter ended tied at 33.
Walker’s aggressive fullcourt press and 3-2 zone defense wore down Zachary in the fourth quarter.
“Our press over time will wear the other team down,” said Walker coach Korey Arnold, who guided the Wildcats to a school-record 31 wins last season and starts five seniors. “We came out not focused and didn’t play well in the first half. We picked up our intensity and got the win.”
Stears hit a 3-pointer from the left side with 7:01 left to put Walker up 36-33. Zachary’s Aleah Haynes hit a follow shot to cut the deficit to 36-35. That was as close as the Broncos would get.
Walker’s Krystal Hutchinson hit a 15-foot jumper and Keeona Brown made two free throws. Zachary’s Bryana Langford made a layup to cut the deficit to 40-37 with 3:34 remaining. Those were Zachary’s last points.
Gibson crossed the lane for a left-handed layup as Walker led 42-37. Zachary had five straight turnovers from there and didn’t get a shot off until the final seconds. Walker hit five of six free throws in the fourth quarter.
“I feel like if we have the lead late we’ll be OK because we have five kids who can handle the ball and make free throws,” Arnold said. “Our last few games came down to that.”
Walker point guard Kacie Fountain (nine points), Stears, Gibson and Krystal Hutchinson (eight points) were particularly strong with the ball.
“We’ve been in those situations before where we need to run some clock,” Fountain said. “We have some pretty good ballhandlers. We know we can execute.”
Langford led Zachary with 16 points and 6-foot Tamia Veal added nine points and nine rebounds.
“We played well for three quarters,” Zachary coach April Brown said. “We had too many turnovers at the wrong time. Defensively we lost sight of some of their shooters. We’ll be OK. We’re young with nine freshmen on the team. We’ll keep working to get better.”