BATON ROUGE -- It’s not always the flawless execution and fundamentals that can light the fuse under a team.
Sometimes the weird and lucky can do the trick.
Walker needed some kind of trigger Thursday night against Catholic High in a gritty game when neither team shot the ball well and defense was the not-so-subtle theme.
Dalton Moore delivered it when he heaved a 75-foot end-of-the-quarter 3-pointer that banked in to end the third quarter with the game evened back up.
That was the lucky part. There was also plenty of execution involved.
After that long bomb founds its mark, the Wildcats seized tighter command on defense and found some needed aggression on the offensive end to storm back for a 60-51 triumph.
Jalen Cook, Jalen Perkins and Moore teamed up for 23 points in the final 8 minutes and Josh Cook ended a strong finish at the foul stripe by swishing a pair as Walker converted 7-of-8 in the closing 1:18 to slam the door.
Moore grabbed a defensive rebound when Catholic’s London Scott rushed to try and beat the clock on one end of the court, dribbled twice to his left and unloaded the shot that cleanly smacked off the square on the backboard and banged through to even the score 35-35.
“I’m always trying to get the ball in last second and do something to give us a spark,” Moore said. “When that shot went, it was good to see and it got the team going.”
Added WHS coach Anthony Schiro, “It’s not just that it was a half-court shot: It was also a momentum shift. It tied the game and changed the perspective.”
Catholic initially survived Moore’s game-tying answered prayer and regained the lead when Connor Shamlin scored on a dribble-drive for a 37-35 advantage with 6:44 left in the game. Walker missed its first two shots of the last stanza before the Cats twice tied the game on Jalen Perkins’ lane jumper and Jalen Cook’s layup on a runout from a Moore feed – the end result of one of Perkins’ 6 blocked shots.
The teams traded blows until Moore finally gave Walker its first lead since the late stages of the first quarter when he crashed the boards to rebound his own missed 3-pointer and slithered inside for a bucket, got fouled and made the free throw.
Finally ahead 43-42 with 5:18 to go, the Wildcats (20-2) never gave the lead back.
Jack Judice scored to give Catholic a 42-40 advantage with 5:43 on the clock and after that, the Walker defense seized command.
The Bears (15-5) hit a lull and scored only two points in a 4:01 span, missing three field goals and turning the ball over twice. Judice’s two free throws were the only interruption.
“Our defensive pressure and intensity and court awareness picked up,” Schiro said. Catholic shot 5-of-15 from the field in the final period and 7-for-31 (22.6%) after halftime.
“We started closing down their driving lanes and made them earn whatever they got. We really picked up our energy level on defense.”
Meanwhile, a game-long struggle on offense finally dissipated for Walker. The Wildcats pulled away when Jalen Cook scored on a drive and hit two foul shots, Perkins hammered home a slam-dunk from the baseline on a slick feed from Jalen Cook and Moore added the final touches to an 11-2 surge when he scored on a fast-break layup following Jalen Cook’s 5th steal.
The Bears’ dry spell ended when Caleb Warner drove the baseline for a bucket at the 1:46 juncture to trim Walker’s lead to 51-46. But the Cats persevered for the 10th consecutive victory when Perkins nailed two free throws, Moore hit the first of two, Jalen Cook ended a frustrating night by converting a pair and Josh Cook sealed the deal with two more with 12.2 seconds left.
Catholic made a final lunge when Collin Holloway converted a pair of second chances into three free throws, but that wasn’t enough.
“We didn’t want to lose at Catholic– with their student section it was a crazy environment and we fed off that,” Moore said. “Our defense gets us going when we get steals and get buckets in transition and that’s finally what we started doing.”
Until the final charge, Walker stuck close against a spirited Bears’ crew despite uncharacteristic shooting struggles.
The Wildcats missed 9-of-13 from the field in the first quarter and ended the first half at 40.9% (9 for 22). It wasn’t just missing shots, but from where: Walker missed a bundle of attempts from the paint and then scuffled from long range when Catholic’s zone settled in.
Because of the problems putting the ball through the net, the Wildcats scored on consecutive offensive trips only three times in the initial 24 minutes, with their own woes snuffing out any chance for their signature spurts.
“I didn’t think we played particularly bad, but we played in a hurry at times and missed a lot of baskets that we normally make,” Schiro said.
Walker trailed 27-20 at halftime but chipped away with an 8-2 run to begin the third quarter. Defense played a big role, with the Bears missing their first 10 floor shots after halftime and Wildcats’ steals on three straight possessions.
Josh Cook pumped in two free throws when he was fouled on a fast break and Darius Hampton turned one of his team-best 7 rebounds into a coast-to-coast drive to close the gap to 29-28 at the 4:22 juncture of the third quarter.
As was the case all night, though, Catholic didn’t relent. Shamlin and Nick Judice cranked in 3s on consecutive offensive trips – the Bears’ only makes of the period – to extend the lead back to 35-28, prompting a Schiro timeout.
The Cats responded with Jalen Cook knifing through the lane on a baseline drive, Hampton converting a steal into a breakaway layup and then Moore’s unlikely dagger to hit the reset button for the final 8 minutes.
“We were struggling to score and that’s why Dalton’s shot at the end of the third quarter was big, because all-in-all, after three quarters that tied the game and got us kick-started,” Schiro said.
The Wildcats (20-2) survived a spunky Catholic effort on the glass by limiting the Bears to 33.3% shooting from the field (17 of 54) and creating 18 turnovers – 15 on steals.
In a 10-day stretch, Walker has won four games – the last three requiring a second-half surge to top St. Michael, Dutchtown and now the Bears.
“It’s kind of like we lost a little bit of our groove, but I think we’re getting it back,” Schiro said.
“We’re understanding better that defensive energy is what gets us going. These were three great games to test us.”
Jalen Cook paced the Cats with 21 points, hitting his final 5 free throws after missing the first three tries, and added 5 steals and 5 assists. Moore finished with 12 points, 4 steals and 5 boards and Perkins scored 10, grabbed 6 rebounds and rejected 6 shots.
Walker is right back in action at 7 p.m. Friday when it plays host to Live Oak in a non-district game.
- Walker misfired on its first five field goals of the night and then never missed more than three in a row the rest of the game. The Cats also found their groove from the free-throw line after a rough start. Walker missed 7 of its first 8 tries but bounced back to hit 13-of-15 after that.
- The Wildcats’ defense was oppressive much of the night and forced Catholic high into four separate stretches of at least 2:26 without a point – the longest were 3:38 early in the third quarter and 3:40 to end that period and begin the fourth.
- Four Walker players recorded at least 2 steals: Jalen Cook (5), Moore (4), Hampton (2), Josh Cook (2) and Brian Thomas (2). The Wildcats also blocked 8 shots, led by Perkins with 6.
- The Bears won the battle on the glass 36-31 and allowed Walker only 6 offensive boards. Holloway was a major reason why with 16 rebounds – 11 on defense.
- The Cats had a rare quiet night from their bench with only 5 points – 3 from Quaeshon Clark and two from Bran Thomas – 4 rebounds and one assist. Catholic got 18 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists from its reserves.
WALKER 60, CATHOLIC HIGH 51
Walker 8 12 15 25 -- 60
Catholic High 10 17 8 16 -- 51
Walker (60) – Jalen Cook 8-18 5-8 21, Dalton Moore 4-9 3-5 12, Darius Hampton 4-8 0-0 8, Jalen Perkins 4-9 2-6 10, Josh Cook 0-1 4-4 4, Brian Thomas 1-2 0-0 2, Le Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Quaeshon Clark 1-1 0-0 3.Totals 22-49 14-23 60.
Catholic High (51) – Jack Judice 1-2 2-2 4,Nicholas Judice 2-7 2-2 7, Kentrell Garrett 3-14 2-2 10, Collin Holloway 4-15 4-6 12, Chandler Row 1-6 2-2 5, Mason McCullough 0-1 0-0 0, Connor Shamlin 2-4 0-0 5, Bailey Luckett 2-2 0-1 4, Caleb Warner 2-2 0-0 4, Max Johnston 0-0 0-0 0, London Scott 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-54 12-15 51.
3-point goals – Walker 2-12 (Clark 1-1, Moore 1-5, Perkins 0-1, Hampton 0-2, Jalen Cook 0-3); Catholic 5-23 (Garrett 2-9, Shamlin 1-2, Row 1-3, N. Judice 1-6, McCullough 0-1, J. Judice 0-1, Holloway 0-1).Total fouls – Walker 16, Catholic High 14. Records: Walker 20-2, Catholic High 15-5.Up next: Live Oak at Walker, 7 p.m. Friday.
Randy Rosetta is Sports Editor of The Livingston Parish News.
You can reach him at (225) 999.0667 or RandyR@LivingstonParishNews.com.
Follow on Twitter: @RandyRosetta | @LPN_Sports | @LPNews1898
Check out these headlines from Livingston Parish on January 11, 2018!
Check out these Livingston Parish headlines from the weekend of January 12-14, 2018!