Walkertown JV team hot and cold

Walkertown JV team  hot and cold
January 16
00:00 2015
(North Stokes’ Larry Helms (2) is forced to the baseline by Walkertown players. Photos by Craig Greenlee)

Whether or not Walkertown’s junior varsity finishes above the break-even point for this season remains to be seen. But for now, there’s one certainty – the Wolfpack is indeed a work-in-progress.

The early weeks of the season gave Coach Maurio Burrell a preview of what has transpired for his team up to now. In late November, Walkertown got steamrolled in a 56-34 road loss to Rockingham County.  Nine days later, the Wolfpack stunned Rockingham in a thrilling 53-52 win on its home floor.



“That last game (against Rockingham) is still the best game that they’ve played all season,” said Burrell. “The intensity and focus was unbelievable. Hopefully, we’ll reach a point where we can consistently duplicate that effort for the rest of this season.”

Inconsistency is the key reason behind the Wolfpack’s rollercoaster season so far. In posting a relatively easy 51-43 victory over North Stokes on Jan. 6, Walkertown wasted no time in building a sizeable margin in the first half. The problem was that Burrell’s squad played sporadically for the remainder of the contest.

As a result, the final score was not an accurate reflection of the Wolfpack’s overall dominance.
Late in the second quarter, Walkertown (5-8, 1-3 Northwest 1A Conference) seized command and led 27-14.  But midway through the third quarter, the momentum started to shift in the opposite direction. The visiting Vikings stormed back and reduced the Wolfpack’s double-digits lead to 34-32. Walkertown responded with an offensive flurry of its own and regained control. North Stokes never got closer than eight points after that.

“The game was more difficult than it should’ve been,” Burrell said. “Our guys made the mistake of playing to the level of competition. We got too comfortable with having a big lead. That’s what gave them the opportunity to get back in it. On the plus side, Zayonte Massey’s intensity on defense played a key role.”

Michael Smith and Zayonte Massey scramble for a loose ball.

Michael Smith and Zayonte Massey scramble for a loose ball.

Walkertown turned up the defensive heat in the second half. Massey caused problems with on-the-ball pressure, which led to turnovers and fast-break points for his team. Offensively, he finished with a game-high 19 points. Tristan Neely came off the bench to score nine points and back-up post player Dylan Macy helped control the paint with timely rebounding and solid interior defense.

“As a team, we still have a long way to go,” said Burrell. “What’s encouraging is that our players are gradually improving as individuals. They’re getting better at understanding what it takes on their part to help us improve as a team and win more consistently.”

Antoine Lowery directs traffic for the Wolfpack.

Antoine Lowery directs traffic for the Wolfpack.

The level of improvement for Walkertown’s JV team hinges heavily on the continued development of its core group. In the backcourt, Quintin Welch and Antoine Lowery have shown potential as floor leaders and heady playmakers. Neely, in the meantime, has continued to elevate his game as a perimeter shooter.

Massey, a rangy swing player who’s still learning how to take full advantage of his athleticism, could be the Wolfpack’s most versatile athlete. On the front line, Brandon Faw and Steven Burgess have had their ups and downs. Macy has emerged as a viable back-up for Faw and Burgess.

“There’s one positive I can look at that says a lot about where this team is right now (in its development),” said Burrell. “Overall, we’re playing with a lot more confidence than we did earlier in the season. That’s a plus, and lately, that’s especially true for our players who come off the bench.”

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