Sometimes a word just doesn’t do enough to accurately depict something. If asked to give one regarding the amazing shooting display that Eli Walker of Quitman High School gave this past Tuesday night one word certainly isn’t enough but to comply WOW!
Walker had a night for ages when he scored a career-high 34 points and tied an all-time Jackson Parish and QHS record with 10 three-pointers in the Wolverines’ 72-34 victory over Ouachita Christian out of Monroe. making four treys in the first quarter and three in both the third and fourth frames.
Adding to the improbability of the outbreak effort is that in the 19 games prior this season, the most Walker had “made it rain” in a game had been four, which he accomplished against Choudrant on October 18th and again against Jonesboro-Hodge on December 19th. On this night that will forever be remembered, the senior guard matched that in his first four shots of the first quarter.
“When I made the first couple, I thought I might have a good night because my shot really felt good,” said Walker. “But I would have never dreamed it was going turn out like this.”
It isn’t as if the sharpshooter hadn’t already proven that he could “stroke it.” In a December 15th game against Dodson, he made 9 of 11 field goals, and in another contest against Cedar Creek on December 16th, Walker connected on 10 of 11 free throws. On this night though, he took things to another level by making four trey’s in the first quarter and three more in both the third and fourth frame.
“It got to where I felt like I couldn’t miss,” reflected Walker. “It was the best I have ever felt on the basketball court.”
When asked what it meant to him to have his name listed in the record books alongside teammate Gavin Caskey, who set the school mark of ten 3-pointers in a game last year, Walker said the one thing he will always remember is how his teammates responded.
“It was obvious that my teammates were pulling for me to get to ten and then try and break the record,” laughed Walker. “They were feeding me the ball every trip down the court and I probably took some shots I shouldn’t have but every time I made one, they would go crazy. It would have been nice to break the record, but it is a great feeling to be sharing it with Gavin.”
Ever the dedicated team player, when Walker asked what he thought was the best thing to come out of the record-setting night his thoughts returned to his teammates and the remainder of the season.
“For me personally my confidence in my shot is sky high, but even though it was a great night for me individually, we all shared in this, and I think it will help us be a better team going forward,” explained Walker. “We were already a close group but this seems to have made us even more focused on what is ahead.”
Logan Ponder added a pair of 3’s as well and finished with 15 points followed by Riley Duck with 7, Blake Carter with six, and five from Caskey, who contributed a 3-pointer for good measure. Brayden Smith finished with three points and Grant Williams had two to round out the scoring for the Wolverines who upped their record to 12-8. OCS fell to 2-7 on the year.
OCS Scoring: Melton 10, Howard 8, Hamby 6, Hopkins 3, Ham 3, Devall 2, Sims 2
Quitman 36 Simsboro 29: (Friday) Call him a prophet! When head coach Mike Black was asked the day before his team was set to play former district foe Simsboro did he feel that Eli Walker’s school record-tying offensive exploits earlier in the week would have a positive effect on the team he was quick to respond.
“No question! Not only was that game a big boost for Eli but our entire team as well,” said Black. “I have noticed that the intensity level in practice has picked up the last couple of days and I think this is going to carry over to us playing our best ball of the year.”
The intensity was personified through a superb defensive effort that led to Quitman holding Simsboro to their lowest scoring total in the series against their longtime nemesis in the new millennia. The result was QHS finally got the monkey off their back that had been hanging on since 2006 (17 years) and covered 22 straight games putting an end to what was a continuing school record in futility.
The game started with Walker picking up where he left off by making a three for Quitman’s first points and Blake Carter adding five points leaving QHS with an 8-6 first-quarter lead. Simsboro managed only two points in the second and thanks to another trey by Walker and Gavin Caskey, who now share the individual mark for most 3’s in a game, and two more baskets by Carter, QHS was ahead 21-8 at the break, and never looked back.
Carter led Quitman with 11 followed closely behind by Walker who tallied ten. Logan Ponder added eight, Caskey three, and both Riley Duck and Brayden Smith finished with two each. With their fifth victory in the last seven games, Quitman improved to 13-8 on the year while Simsboro, which is suffering through their worst season in over two decades, fell to 6-14.
SHS Scoring: n/a
Lady Wolverines salvage split of weeks games
OCS 49 Quitman 36 (Tuesday): The Lady Wolverines gave a game effort but a slow start proved fatal to any chances of an upset and Ouachita Christian proved why they have been the gold standard of Class A girls basketball in the 2020s and the #3 ranked team in Division IV among “select” schools this year.
Early scoring struggles led to a 10-2 deficit at the end of the first period putting QHS behind the proverbial “eight ball”. Quitman fought back with a gritty defensive effort that limited OCS to just 8-second quarter points and behind seven points from Cali Deal and a pair of trey’s from Brayli Stewart the Lady Wolverines narrowed the margin to 18-15 at the half. OCS extended the lead to five by the end of the third quarter forcing Quitman to foul in the fourth quarter in an attempt to close the gap.
Despite the sound strategy, OCS pulled away even further by connecting on 11 of 16 charity shots to improve their season record to 17-3. Stewart ended the night with four 3-pointers and 12 points to lead QHS in scoring followed closely by Deal who ended with 11 and a team-leading 10 rebounds. Anna Leach added five points and four assists, after seeing extended minutes due to the absence of normal starter Bethany Leach, who was out with an injured shoulder. A.J. Gray and Emma Carter both finished with four each for Quitman who fell to 14-6 on the year after a second straight loss.
OCS Scoring: H. Woodward 20, Melton 10, West 9, K. Woodward 4, Gibson 1
Quitman 55 Simsboro 37 (Thursday): While the boys were putting an end to their futility streak against Simsboro, the Lady Wolverines extended their streak of wins over their former district foe to nine straight over the last 8 years. A season best performance of 24 points, 8 field goals and 5 three pointers by Brayli Stewart led the way. Cali Deal turned in a “double-double” with 18 points and 12 boards and 8th grader, Anna Leach continued her impressive play with 9 points and 5 boards. A J Gray added six rebounds and a season best 3 blocks and Summer Grillette provided 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. Emma Carter rounded out the scoring with four. The victory snapped a two game skid and improved Quitman’ record to 15-6 on the year while Simsboro fell to fell to 7-10 overall.
SHS Scoring: n/a