By PATRICK CASEY
The Walton varsity boys basketball team had a busy week through Monday afternoon
as the squad posted four wins in a span of seven days to improve to 6-0 on the year and 2-0 in
District 1 of Class 5A.
Against North Bay Haven on Dec. 12 in their district opener, the Braves were on fire
from the field in the first half, hitting 24-of-40 shots from the field to build a 57-30 lead as junior
guard Kentrell Parker scored 21 of his 28 points in the first 16 minutes of play. The game was
played at a brisk pace with Walton forcing 26 turnovers while hitting 40-of-69 shots from the field
to post a 93-70 victory.
Parker finished with 28 points while Keith Gilbert added 20, Joel Green 14 and Logan
Betts 11. Walton hit 10 shots from behind the 3-point line and had eight different players score
as the squad moved to 3-0.
North Bay Haven put up 70 points but hit only 29-of-68 shots from the field and 7-of-14
from the free throw line. Wesley Wilmot scored 18 with teammate Michael McLaughlin adding
14 and Luke Brooks 13.
Against Paxton on Friday, Walton fell behind 9-0 due to poor shooting and 11 first
quarter turnovers but then went on a 10-1 run to tie the game at 10-all before the first eight
minutes was over. The Braves actually took a 12-11 lead at the end of the first quarter with the
help of a Logan Betts 3-point shot.
The two teams continued to play evenly in the second quarter as the game was
deadlocked at 28-all at intermission as Walton’s Trevor Johnson scored 10 points during that
time while Paxton’s Connor Varnum mixed shots from the field and free throws to tally eight
points in the first half along with teammate Gabe Nelson.
Walton’s Keith Gilbert overcame foul trouble with strong play in the second half as he
scored 18 of his 20 points after intermission to help the Braves take a 46-37 lead after three
quarters and roll to a 63-51 victory.
The Braves were 27-of-56 from the field but made only 1-of-9 from the free throw line.
Walton took advantage of 26 Paxton turnovers while struggling with 21 of their own but the
Braves’ depth was able to outlast the Bobcats.
Varnum finished with 20 points while Nelson had 12 as the Bobcats were 15-of-38 from
the field and 17-of-26 from the free throw line.
Walton defeated Central the next day 65-39 (see Blake McCormick’s story) to set up an
afternoon make-up contest with West Florida Tech on Monday.
Gilbert got in foul trouble early in the game against the Jaguars as Walton’s offense
sputtered, missing shots while struggling with turnovers, as the game was tied at 14-all at the
half before Walton pulled away in the final four minutes of the game to post a 48-39 district win.
Walton is now 6-0 overall and 2-0 in District 1, Class 5A competition with trips to Laurel
Hill on Thursday and Friday to face Elba on Thursday afternoon and either Baker or Laurel Hill
The Braves will also travel with the girls varsity squad to play in a tournament hosted
by Escambia County on Dec. 29-30 with the opening game for both squads against Sparta