WALKER — A year after advancing to the Class 5A state championship game, the Walker girls basketball team has struggled to keep pace on offense, having failed to reach 50 points in 11 of its 13 games.
On defense, however, the Wildcats are keeping up just fine.
Walker again leaned on making stops Thursday in the first round of the Walker High tournament as the Wildcats held Lafayette Christian to just seven points (and two field goals) in the second half of a 43-28 win.
“I feel like this year,” senior Keeona Brown said, “our defense is going to be what wins us games.”
Walker trailed 24-20 after LCA guard Myca Broussard connected on a 3-pointer with 4:42 to play in the third quarter, but the Wildcats surrendered only a Cassidy Valentine jumper and two Ajia Robinson free throws the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, Brown put the Walker offense on her back in the fourth quarter to help create the comfortable final margin.
Brown finished with 20 points, followed by Krystal Hutchinson with 10. Broussard had 11 points for LCA, and Robinson scored 10.
The Wildcats (7-6) will continue action in their tournament, played under a round-robin format, Friday against South Plaquemines and finish up with games against St. Amant and Port Allen on Saturday.
“I’m happy defensively, but sometimes on offense we force the issue a little too much,” Walker coach Korey Arnold said. “We’ve got to get a littler smarter.”
The Wildcats are in transition this season after compiling a 31-6 mark in 2014-15 and advancing to the state championship game for the first time since 1977. All three seniors on that team signed Division I scholarships after combining to average 52 points per game.
Although they have already matched last year’s loss total, the Wildcats held a lead in the final minute of five of the six losses.
“They know why we lost, and they understand it’s a work in progress,” Arnold said. “I don’t think it’s dampened their spirits.”
Walker’s defense frustrated LCA from the opening tip Thursday as four early turnovers helped the Wildcats build an 8-0 lead. But the Knights recovered, using a 17-4 scoring advantage in the second quarter to take a 21-20 lead into halftime.
Walker regained the lead late in the third quarter and started to pull away in the fourth.
Treasure Mansur sank her second 3-pointer to make it 31-24 with 7:15 to play. After a pair of free throws by Robinson cut the margin back to five, Brown scored eight points to fuel a 10-0 run.
“We slowed the game down and took what they gave us,” Brown said.