First-rate competition created an offensive bonanza Friday night when Walker High and Sophie B. Wright squared off at Madison Prep’s Rumble on the River tournament.
Not wanting to get left behind, neither team took its foot off the gas, but it was Wright that finally outlasted Walker to post a 92-89 quarterfinal win at Madison Prep in Baton Rouge.
It wasn’t easy.
Wright (11-1) took a 79-60 lead into the fourth quarter, and led 85-68 after Dandrick Green’s jumper with 4:38 left. Walker (7-3) came back with a 12-1 run over the next three minutes and had the ball trailing 88-83 with a minute to play.
Jalen Cook missed a 3-point shot, and the Warriors made four free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win.
“The competition in this tournament is so good. We’re being pushed to score a lot of points,” Wright coach Jason Bertrand said. “Walker is so well-coached. It was one of those games where they forced us to continue to score.”
The main catalyst forcing Wright’s hand was Walker guard Jalen Cook, who scored 19 of his game-high 39 points in the fourth quarter. Cook’s heroics helped Walker outscore Wright 29-13 in the closing quarter.
For the game, Walker made 38 of 67 shots from the field (57 percent).
“We were shooting the ball well,” Walker coach Anthony Schiro said. “Every time we’d make a few shots and get a little run, (Wright) would come back and hit a big shot. Early on, I thought we were doing a decent job defensively, but we were giving up too many second
Wright shot 45 percent (33 of 74), but grabbed 16 offensive rebounds. The Warriors also connected on 11 of 29 3-point attempts.
The Warriors were led by a trio of seniors, all who have scored more than 1,000 career points. Damiree Burns, a Southern signee, and Charlie Russell each scored 29 points. Rhode Island signee Gregory Hammond added 18.
Wright came into the contest averaging 86 points per game and wasted no time showing it could score points quickly. The Warriors raced out to a 31-17 halftime lead and increased the lead to 23 points in the second quarter before settling for a 58-37 halftime advantage.
Wright’s largest lead came early in the third quarter when Jerome Anthony scored two of his 11 points to put the Warriors on top 62-37.
Walker, which only had two turnovers in the second half, began to cut into the Wright leads midway through the fourth quarter. Brian Thomas, who finished with 22 points, had two baskets and a pair of free throws to help the Wildcats close to within 85-76.
Cook took over from there, scoring on a drive and then converting a three-point play to cut the Walker deficit to five at 88-83. After Cook missed a contested 3-pointer, Hammond’s free throws gave Wright breathing room.