Walker, Holmes County hold off Hawthorne

Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 05:14 PM.
LAKELAND — The only thing that overshadowed Chris Walker’s triple-double was a dramatic finish.
The Holmes County senior scored 20 points while adding 13 rebounds and 13 blocks in leading his team past Hawthorne 51-48 in Tuesday’s Class 1A state boys basketball semifinal at The Lakeland Center.
Holmes County (19-8) advanced to play West Gadsden in today’s 3:35 p.m. CST state title game in what is the Blue Devils’ first championship appearance. Top-ranked Hawthorne, which finished as state runner-up last season, had a 14-game winning streak snapped and finished 28-2 with its first loss since Dec. 29.
Walker was fouled intentionally and also called for a subsequent technical foul with 4:34 to play and his free throw gave Holmes County a 41-33 lead. He spent the next two minutes on the bench, but his absence didn’t spark Hawthorne. The Hornets instead trailed by their largest margin, 46-34, on a pair of free throws by Jacky Miles with 2:49 to play.
Hawthorne pulled to within one point with a frantic rally late in the fourth quarter. The ability to not only remain in front but to increase the lead while their star player was on the bench was key in the Blue Devils’ victory.
They looked out of sorts late in the third quarter when Walker sat down with three fouls. Hawthorne closed to within two points at the end of three quarters, but squandered a chance to do damage with Walker sidelined in the fourth.
Leamon Wilson scored back-to-back baskets, including one on a turnover, to pull Hawthorne within 46-38 with 2:22 to go. Walker checked back in and re-established himself in the paint with his 13th and final block with less than 90 seconds on the clock. The score stood 49-40 in favor of Holmes County at that point. but it proved to be anything but a comfortable cushion.

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