By REID TUCKER
South Walton’s girls hoops team broke its early-season .500 record by posting an impressive 51-23 victory over perennial north-of-the-bay rival Freeport.
The Lady Seahawks (2-1), who defeated Holmes County but fell to Ponce de Leon, consistently outpointed Freeport throughout the contest, held Monday, Nov. 21 at the Lady Bulldogs’ home gymnasium. South Walton’s top scorer of the night was Casey Perot, who put 18 points on the board, the majority of which came in the fourth quarter, which was also the team’s highest-scoring period of the game with a 17-9 deficit in South Walton’s favor. Perot was backed up by Taylor Menard, who scored 10 points on a combination of field goals and free throws.
The Lady Bulldogs (0-4) struggled to keep up with South Walton’s pace as turnovers and missed opportunities combined with some cold shooting all contributed toward the loss. Freeport’s top scorers on the evening were Laura Ham, with nine points, and Shadia Mitry, who scored eight. Mary Kate Myrick got into foul trouble early, which limited her impact on the game through the middle periods but she nonetheless contributed seven points to Freeport’s total.
Thus far in the season, Freeport has fallen to Laurel Hill, Holmes County, South Walton and Paxton and in each instance the Lady Bulldogs trailed by at least 14 points by the final buzzer.
The first quarter saw South Walton go up 12-5 on Freeport, with Alyssa Bump scoring her sole six points of the game via a brace of 3-pointers, while Casey Perot added a pair of twos. Myrick scored just once, though from well behind the arc, for Freeport and Mitry got a 2 to wrap up the quarter.
The second period was much the same story as South Walton’s players, who had some ball-handling issues of their own, nevertheless ran up a 10-6 scoring deficit on Freeport. Casey Perot, who had come up short in a couple attempts at the charity stripe and from the floor throughout the period, finally scored in the last 15 seconds of the half to make it a 22-11 ballgame at the half. Freeport got four points from Mitry and a 2 Mikaela Norton.
The Lady Bulldogs’ worst quarter by far came after the intermission as only Ham could sink a basket, a 3-pointer that came around the 2:00-minute mark. South Walton’s Menard and Mackenzie Perot each scored a pair of 2s and Morgan Kennedy drew a timely foul just after the clock showed three minutes to go and drained both shots from the free-throw line. Altogether, the Lady Seahawks outpointed their opponents by a 3:1 ratio during the period.
Freeport scored nine points in the final period with Myrick back in the game to get in four good free throws, the first two of which came at 7:40 to go, though the Lady ‘Dogs were still back of South Walton to the tune of 34-16 at that point. Less than a minute later Myrick drew another foul and swished the ensuing shots from the stripe while Mitry added two more free throws with 5:26 to go to close within 20 of South Walton, who by then had a 40-22 advantage.
However, South Walton soon poured on a series of baskets from Casey Perot and Menard and with a little more than three minutes in regulation was in lead 45-20. In the meantime Myrick fouled out at the 30-second mark, leaving the Lady Bulldogs to finish the game with four players on the floor as two other Freeport players were also benched due to foul trouble. South Walton went 5-5 in free throws during the final period, helping them to a 51-20 lead in the final seconds but Ham came through with a score from the arch near the buzzer to give Freeport a positive note on which to close the game.
The JV situation was much worse for Freeport, as South Walton posted a 45-6 win in that contest.