Tournament is learning experience for Atkins and Walkertown

Tournament is learning experience  for Atkins and Walkertown
December 29
00:00 2014
(pictured above:  Walkertown’s Terrence Westberry applies pressure on D.J. Williams of Atkins.)

The two lowest-seeded teams in the Lash-Chronicle Holiday Classic were hammered in the first round on Dec. 13. Both lost by 30-plus points, but they refused to get caught up in the “woe is us” syndrome.

Instead, 13th-seeded Atkins and 12th-seeded Walkertown pushed themselves to the limit in the consolation round played last Thursday. Through four quarters, neither team was able to completely exert its will. Eventually, it was Walkertown that survived with a 55-50 overtime victory. Quentin Welch settled the issue for the Wolfpack at the free-throw line, but it wasn’t by conventional means.

With eight seconds to go in OT, Welch, who finished with a team-high 13 points, had two foul shots. He made the first, missed the second, but got the offensive rebound and sank a high-arcing floater right before the final buzzer. Had Welch not followed his shot, chances are that Atkins would have gained possession with a chance to tie the game and force a second overtime.

Walkertown’s Maurio Burrell talks with a player.

Walkertown’s Maurio Burrell talks with a player.

“Everything came down to keeping everybody calm,” said Coach Maurio Burrell of Walkertown (4-8). “In crucial situations, young players have a tendency to get overexcited. They have to realize that things will be OK as long as they stick to the basics. They find out how it helps win games when you protect the basketball, especially at crunch time.”

Atkins scored its only points in the OT when Dillon Jennings (11 points) sank a short jumper for 52-50 lead. Walkertown took the lead for good thanks to Zayonte Massey’s handiwork. Massey, who contributed 10 points, scored on a lay-up to tie the game, then stole the ball and scored again on a fast-break basket.

The Camels (1-8) seemed to be in position to win in the closing minutes of overtime. Costly turnovers, however, proved to be too much to overcome. Atkins had an opportunity to win in the final seconds of regulation. James Etter, who delivered a game-high 22 points for the Camels, put up a mid-range jumper from the left corner that bounced off the side of the rim as time ran out.

Coach David Prim of Atkins applauded his team’s willingness to stay in contention. But he wasn’t happy with the mental breakdowns that occurred in the late stages of regulation and overtime. “You can’t coach effort,” said Prim. “Plus, I felt that too many of our players kept waiting on James to make all the plays for us.”



“There was too much dependency placed on person instead of everybody relying on all of their teammates. Walkertown just wanted it more than we did. For whatever reason, we failed to box out the free-throw shooter, and we ended up paying dearly for that mistake. At the start of overtime, we’re up by two and then we commit two turnovers. We didn’t make nearly enough hustle plays which could have made a difference.”

Atkins and Walkertown haven’t seen the last of each other. As members of the Northwest 1-A Conference, they will play two more times this season. For both coaches, the Lash-Chronicle tournament gives them a clearer picture of what their respective teams need to work on as they prepare for the conference portion of their schedules.

“Every win, even a close loss, is a confidence builder,” said Burrell. “Playing in tight games gives them the opportunity to believe in themselves. They come to understand and believe in what we’re doing because what they’re being taught does work.”

Atkins will have to make some major adjustments over the holiday break. Etter, their best player, played his last game for the Camels last week and is transferring to East Forsyth. The Camels will miss Etter’s creativity and points production. Syrus Sadler, a shooting guard who started the season on the varsity, will replace Etter.

About Author

WS Chronicle

WS Chronicle

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors