BATON ROUGE – Walker basketball coach Anthony Schiro congratulated his team after Wednesday’s 50-42 victory over East Ascension that concluded the second week of the Woodlawn High Summer Basketball League.
But the Wildcats were hardly off the hook from their coach who, along with his coaching staff, had a stern message for their team.
“I didn’t like our energy,” Schiro said. “For a lot of our young guys it’s their first time to get in the weight room where we’ve started really hard and maybe their legs were tired. Then the football guys had 7-on-7 this morning. But we’ve got to come out and give better effort than that; give better energy.
“I can understand being a little tired and shots being a little short and not making as many,” Schiro said. “But giving up loose balls, not boxing out. Things like that are things that I can’t accept. The message was that any time we step on the court we need to do a better job of being ready to play.”
That wasn’t necessarily case outside of a 2 ½ minute stretch of the second quarter where Walker played to a higher standard, taking back the lead on a 3-pointer from Warren Young Jr. and going on a 18-0 run to open a 29-12 halftime lead.
Schiro had tried to give established veterans Jalen Cook and Brian Thomas a break and fielded a lineup without a starter for approximately two minutes.
East Ascension rallied with a 5-1 run to open the second quarter for a 12-11 lead when Young’s 3-pointer gave Walker the lead back for good.
With Cook and Thomas back on the floor, the Wildcats found their groove, making 7 of 8 shots with Cook draining three of his four 3-pointers and Thomas adding a spinning layin, a slam dunk and baseline drive.
Cool scored 13 of his game-high 21 points in the first half and Thomas had nine of his 16 in the opening half for the Wildcats who shot 50 percent (11 of 22).
“When those guys came back in, I thought the last two minutes were great,” Schiro said. “Jalen started hitting shots and Brian was able to get to the rim a couple of times. We started playing pretty good basketball. Then after we got the big lead we kind of relaxed after that and never really got it back going again.”
Walker maintained a double-digit lead until the last 12 seconds of the third quarter.
EA scored the last eight points of the quarter and finished a 10-0 run that bridged the fourth quarter, enabling the Spartans to close within 35-28 with 4:50 to play.
The Spartans were able to get as close as six points (37-31) with 4:13 remaining when Thomas answered with four straight points on a drive and pair of free throws.
Cook and Thomas combined to score all but two of their team’s 15 points in the final quarter.
“We told them you can’t do that and flip a switch off and on like that,” Schiro said. “I thought EA’s team was playing harder than us and doing some things that got them to the foul line when we were a half step slow and not getting back. We had a stretch where we played well but the rest of the night, we were kind of going through the motions a bit.”