Holmes County wins first state boys basketball title

Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 11:46 PM.

The Blue Devils started their streak Jan. 25 against Marianna, but they made a statement by winning the District 2-1A championship over favored Chipley. The Tigers had defeated the Blue Devils by seven points two weeks earlier, but Walker and Holmes County ran past Chipley 50-46 in the rematch to secure home-court advantage.

Holmes County routed Paxton 72-51 to open the Region 1-1A tournament. Second-ranked Malone, a deeper team by most accounts, couldn’t contend with Walker, who had 28 points — 22 in the second half — in a 55-47 victory for the school’s first regional title. Walker had a triple-double in Tuesday’s 51-48 win over top-ranked Hawthorne to advance.

West Gadsden may have been considered a favorite on Wednesday having played in the state semifinal last season before losing to Chipley. However, fourth-ranked Holmes County had momentum and confidence buoyed by a win over Malone, which defeated West Gadsden in the regular season. Walker gave the Blue Devils plenty more of both on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-9 senior scored 17 points and had seven rebounds in the first half, which ended with Holmes County holding a slim 25-24 lead. He matched the Panthers’ Charis Fitzgerald with 11 points in the first quarter in helping Holmes County to an 18-13 advantage.

Walker went to the bench with a second foul two minutes into the second quarter after a basket that expanded the lead to 22-15. He was out for more than three minutes, but West Gadsden was unable to move any closer than three, 23-20, before Walker returned with 2:17 remaining in the second quarter.

Back-to-back baskets by Fitzgerald and Patrick Gilyard off Holmes County turnovers pushed the Panthers in front 24-23. Walker made two free throws to cap the first-half scoring.

Two Jacky Miles’ free throws finished an 8-0 run to open the third quarter and put Holmes County ahead 32-24. West Gadsden stopped the run momentarily with a Teron Fitzgerald free throw. Dalton Keen energized the crowd and his team with a turnaround 3-pointer to stake the Blue Devils to a 35-25 edge at the 1:53 mark.

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