By PATRICK CASEY
Walton sophomore Haleigh Graham scored 30 points as the Lady Braves rallied from a halftime deficit to pick up a 57-50 home victory over the Paxton Bobcats in a contest that saw the host squad snap a six game losing streak to their county rival.
Walton led early in the contest as Graham and Chambleigh Webster each scored five points in the opening quarter only to have the Bobcats get seven points from Camryn Brazile and six from Katie Sebastian to rally for an 18-14 lead after the first eight minutes of play.
Walton got to the free throw line in the second quarter, hitting 9-of-11 shots from the charity stripe as Camryn Johnson scored all six of her points in the second quarter with Graham adding seven more points during that time.
Paxton countered with six points from Sadie Varnum and five more from Sebastian to hold a 33-31 advantage at intermission.
Walton went ahead in the third quarter as Graham drilled two shots from behind the three points line, scoring another eight points in the third quarter with Webster adding five more of her own.
Sebastian scored her final seven points of the game in the third period to finish with 18 in the game as Paxton trailed 46-42 entering the fourth quarter.
Graham hit two more three-point shots and Walton pulled ahead 54-44 before Paxton scored six in a row to get back within 54-50. Both teams had several empty trips on offense down the floor before Walton got back to the foul line with Graham and Webster combing for three free throws in the final 90 seconds to wrap up a 57-50 victory.
Sixteen total turnovers and 5-of-20 shooting from the field hurt Paxton in the second half as Cortni McKee finished with nine points and Varnum with six.
Walton hit 19-of-47 shots from the field and 12-of-18 from the free throw line to overcome 15 turnovers of their own to move to 12-6 on the year.
The Braves learned earlier in the day on Monday that they had won the coin toss to take the top seed at next week’s /District 1, Class 4A tournament at West Florida. The Braves will face Pensacola Catholic in a semifinal on Tuesday, Jan. 31, with a win over the Crusaders putting Walton in the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.
Paxton fell to 15-8 with the loss and a likely showdown with #2-seed Ponce de Leon looms on Feb. 2 in Bethlehem in a District 1, Class A semifinal.
Team Notes: Webster had 11 points against Paxton in the victory. Paxton holds a 33-11 lead in the series since the 1992-93 season. Walton closes out the regular season with a Friday home game against Panama City Arnold at 6 p.m.
By PATRICK CASEY