BAKER — As a consensus top 10 prospect in the country and standing 6-feet-10 inches tall, Holmes County’s Chris Walker draws plenty of attention wherever he goes on and off the basketball floor.
Walker and his Blue Devil teammates were in Baker on Friday for a District 2-1A game with the Gators.
It was no surprise that Walker was a force in the paint swatting away numerous Baker field goal attempts, or that he easily dominated the boards. What was a little surprising is Walker only scored nine points as the Blue Devils beat the Gators 67-46.
Despite the loss Baker coach Mike Martello was upbeat about the performance of the Gators.
“You could tell what our game plan was and I thought our guys did an excellent job executing that game plan,” he said. “We just didn’t have as many weapons as they did.
No matter what anybody tells you they are not a one-man team. They’ve got guys around Chris Walker that can step up and you saw that tonight.”
In fact Walker was more of an on-floor spectator in the first quarter as were most of the Blue Devils as Junior Miles stole the show scoring 16 points in the opening quarter.
But the first basket of the night belonged to Jonathan Williams. Fittingly Williams hit a 3-point basket of his own to start things off in a sign of things to come from the Blue Devils.
Miles then hit three straight 3-pointers to push the Blue Devil lead to 12-0. Walker scored his first points of the night on a pair of free throws and Miles hit a driving layup to complete the 16-0 opening run by the Blue Devils.
Justin Morgan broke the Baker scoring drought with 2:30 left in the first quarter but the damage had already been done.
Holmes County pushed the lead to 23-6 at the end of the first quarter and 38-18 at the half.
Although the Gators (4-6, 1-3) trailed by 20 they wouldn’t go away.
Josh Hartzog led a gutsy Baker effort to stay in the game. The Gator point guard refused to be intimidated by Walker’s presence in the lane and he continually took the ball to the basket whether Walker was looming in the shadows or not.
At game’s end Hartzog had scored an impressive 22 points. And much to their credit the Gators had answered the bell rather than folding under the weight of what seemed to be an insurmountable lead.
When Hartzog wasn’t driving for a basket he was dishing the ball off to his teammates and Brooks Taylor benefitted from Hartzog’s generosity by scoring 11 points of his own.
But Holmes County proved to have plenty of weapons to compliment Walker.
Miles led Holmes County in scoring with 19 points. Clay Keen added 12 points and Cason Moore 10 points.
“We did some good things,” Martello said..”We worked the ball around (on offense) and that’s something we haven’t been able to do this year. When Josh is having a great game he does a good job of it but getting everybody else involved is something that we worked on.
I thought we did a great job. We never quit even though it got to 20 points plus. We kept playing and battling the whole game.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524