WALNUT HILLS – Abba Lawal, Walnut Hills’ 6′ 11 freshman center, wasn’t in action Friday night at the “Nut House”, but there was plenty of skill to go around.
After a 71-61 Purcell Marian victory against Meadowdale in the third annual Tipoff Classic, Walnut Hills and Shroder laced it up to begin their seasons. The Eagles won 53-44.
“We’re so young,” Eagles coach Ricardo Hill said following the game. “It’s going to take a few games to get the chemistry of this team together, but once we do we should be a good team.”
After a slow start in the first quarter, Walnut Hills closed the frame out with an 8-0 run to lead 12-7. Hunter Davidson came off the bench to chip in four points during the run. Adam Goines added the other two baskets.
In the second quarter, Shroder’s guards weaved their way to the basket, creating chances for three- point plays and opportunities from the charity stripe. Walnut Hills still managed to outscore the Jaguars 8-7 for the 20-14 lead at the break.
After the break, the Jaguars got out and ran like their team name implies. They turned a 27-18 deficit into a 31-31 tie.
It was the first game of the year for both teams but Hill said it felt like a tournament game.
“We just had to grind this game out,” he said. “Shroder is a scrappy team that plays so hard, so hard that the game can get ugly sometimes.”
But as they did all game long, Walnut Hills managed the pressure and made shots when needed.
Malcolm Moffett knocked down a triple to regain the lead. Then, D. J. Benson followed it up with another trey in the fourth to extend the lead to 37-31.
“They hit some big threes in the fourth quarter to help us keep control of the game,” the coach said.
Moffett finished with 15 points.
The Eagles started a 7-3 run to open up a 10-point lead, their largest of the game. They would need every point of it as the Jaguars showed they had another run left.
Late in the fourth, Shroder cut its deficit to four points, 44-40. However, Walnut, like it did earlier in the contest, made buckets and broke the press to come away with a 1-0 start.
Lawal will be eligible to play Dec. 9. His first varsity action could be the tilt two days later on the road at Anderson.
“He adds another dimension to our team with blocking and reboudning,” Hill said. “But, it was good for the rest of our guys to play in this type of game. When we get the big guy, it will be the icing on the cake.”