By PATRICK CASEY
The Walton Lady Braves girls basketball team overcame a slow start to defeat the Pensacola Catholic Crusaders 53-28 on Thursday night to improve to 13-5 overall and 3-0 in district competition.
Junior Taliah Moore led Walton with 18 points as eight different players got on the scoreboard to help Walton rally from a 14-10 first quarter deficit.
Te’Ondria Guice and Krista McQueen added nine points each as the Braves went on a 19-4 scoring run in the second quarter to hold a 29-18 lead at intermission.
The Braves forced 31 turnovers in the contest as the Crusaders struggled with their ball-handling after the first quarter of play, rolling up 28 turnovers over the final 24 minutes of the game.
The Braves made their first nine free throw attempts of the game and finished 10-of-13 from the charity stripe while getting off 71 shots from the floor. Though the Braves shot only 21-of-71 in the contest, they got enough second and third chances to put plenty of points on the scoreboard.
The Braves had only eight turnovers of their own and coach Jerry Hester shuttled in his six reserves to provide plenty of rest for the starters in the second half.
The Crusaders could manage only 9-of-27 shooting from the field with Gabrielle Clune leading the way with eight points. No other Pensacola Catholic player was able to score more than five points in the game.
The loss dropped the Crusaders to 1-14 on the year and 0-3 in district play.
Team Notes: Walton is now 8-26 against the Crusaders since the 1993-94 season though the Braves are 6-5 in the last 11 meetings. The Braves win in Pensacola on Dec. 8 was the school’s first victory in girls basketball in the Catholic gymnasium in at least 19 seasons. Taliah Moore has 996 points in 64 career games at Walton. Moore is averaging 15.6 points per game in her career and should eclipse the 1,000-point mark against Holmes County on Jan. 12 in Bonifay. The Braves took the junior varsity contest with the Crusaders by a score of 30-20. The Lady Braves can wrap up a state playoff berth and the top seed in the district tournament if they defeat Marianna in DeFuniak Springs on Jan. 20.