JASPER, Tenn.–The other half of the Van Buren one-two punch made his return Tuesday night as the Eagles took down district foe Marion County in blowout fashion, 77-37.
For the ninth time this season, the Eagles lit up the scoreboard for 65 or more points while Marion County was held to its lowest scoring total at home this season. Bo Walker put up 12 points in his return to boost a struggling-of-late squad.
“We’ve not really been playing good for a while,” Eagles head coach Dustin Sullivan said. “Bo has been out for three or four games. We’re more than any one player, but having him back just provided another little spark. When you’ve got all your guys there, you feel a little more comfortable.”
Walker’s presence was missed in the past stretch of games, but during Thursday night’s nail-biting loss to rival Bledsoe County, 59-58, his play could have made the difference between upset loss and 10-point win. That loss left a bad taste the entire basketball-less weeknd for Van Buren County.
“It’s been a long time since Thursday,” Sullivan said. “Nobody’s really slept good this weekend. Nobody’s really happy, and if they have been happy, I’ve probably made them miserable when they’ve been around me. They were definitely motivated to get out on the court and play better.”
Marion County started out the game with a score before Van Buren County took off with an early 9-2 lead. Caden Mills and Walker combined for 18 1st quarter points as the Eagles led 26-6 going into the s2nd period. The Warriors outscored Van Buren in the 2nd quarter but were unable to erase a large part of the deficit before halftime.
Mills and crew were able to pull the margin to 29 by the end of the 3rd quarter before the reserves took over and pushed it to a 40-point margin late. A lot of that, though, can be attested to the stingy Van Buren defense.
“Usually the defense has less to do with strategy and more to do with execution,” Sullivan said. “It seemed like we were more on our toes and bouncing a little bit more. We mixed it up more between zone and man. Our guys were just a little more into it mentally and able to pressure more like we would to do.”
For the Eagles, Tuesday night seemed to be a turning point, and Sullivan is hoping it will be a springboard for the rest of the season.
“I hope it gives us a lot of confidence,” Sullivan said. “We don’t like to talk about results. We want to talk about the process of getting there whether we’re hitting shots or just doing things the right way. We talked about how it’s not too long before the postseason will be here.”
In the district, Van Buren sits securely at the top with Richard Hardy sitting close behind at 5-1. The Warriors are currently two games behind Sale Creek who currently holds the three-seed, but Marion County has at least a two game lead on the rest of the District 6A pack–South Pittsburg, Whitwell, and Lookout Valley.
Both teams take on South Pittsburg later in the week as Marion County travels to the Pirates’ home court Thursday and the Eagles host on Friday.
MCHS — 6 | 12 | 12 | 7 || 37
VBHS — 26 | 14 | 19 | 18 || 77
MCHS (37) — Kane Hale (11), Jace Williamson (9),Ty Heifner (7)
VBHS (77) — Caden Mills (19), Bo Walker (12), Sawyer Shockley (11)