Waltonville takes home senior night win
Spartans' great start holds up; Victory ties Wayne City for second in MTC
- Senior night's, in most cases, are a final chance for the locals to get a glimpse at the kids who have played for the school on their home floor and for the team to play well in front of their faithful.

The Waltonville Spartans celebrated their final regular season game and its last home game of the season on Saturday night after weather postponed the contest from Friday.

Neither the weather nor the 24-hour delay dampened the Spartans spirits on this awards' night.

The hosts came out “fired up” as they opened up the game with a 21-5 first quarter run and held off Wayne City in an important Midland Trail Conference victory, 55-47.

The win moved Waltonville into a tie with the Indians for second place in the 2018-19 MTC standings at 6-2.

Waltonville pushed their overall mark to 12-14 for the season with the victory in front of a large crowd on a cold night.

Head coach Anthony Lowery got a good effort from his club as they picked up some momentum heading into next week's regional tournament.

“Emotions were high, the place was packed and it was good to get a win,” said Coach Lowery. “We were kind of riding on a cloud early. I kept telling them (the players) that they (Wayne City) are not going to quit. I told them you got to grind it out and we got a good win.”

The hosts put three players in double-figures in the win led by 6-foot-6 senior center Zack Webb.

Webb proved to be a tough matchup for the Indians as he got loose in the lane for 14-points and grabbed nine-rebounds for the Spartans.

Junior guard 5-foot-11 Reagan Newell tossed in 13-points while senior guard McKendal Malone added 12.

Another Spartan, 6-foot-4 junior Dillon Bananch, added nine.

Wayne City saw its overall record fall to 17-11 as they, according to Coach Jim Corona “weren't ready to play in the first quarter.”

“I take all of the responsibility for that. I could tell it at the beginning. But lets give credit to them (Waltonville) they came out ready and they earned everything they got in the first half,” said Coach Corona. “The really 'kicked' us on the boards tonight. They didn't make that many first shots but they got second chances.”

The Tribe ended up with two players scoring double-digits with 5-foot-9 freshman Taj McKinney leading the way with 13-points and junior guard Travis Dickey netting 10.

Six-foot-one senior Dane Horton added nine-points in the defeat.

It was the first eight minutes, however, that sealed the Indians' fate.

After a strange beginning of the game where Wayne City's Horton, who scored on a shot near the foul line, got called for a technical foul for pushing Webb after the play.

The Spartans cashed in 1-of-2 foul shots by senior Jacob Tucker and subsequently took the lead back for good when Webb snagged an offensive board for a 3-2 Waltonville lead.

The rest of the quarter belonged to the hosts.

Coach Lowery's club didn't allow a field goal by Wayne City for nearly seven minutes of playing time.

Waltonville strung together an 16-1 run with a three-point play provided by Malone on a cut to the basket and then a pair of 3-pointers coming from Newell and Tucker.

When Webb added another score in the paint, the Spartans led 19-3.

McKinney scored for Wayne City with :49 left but Tucker added another score for a 21-5 lead.

The Indians missed eight consecutive shots and were just 2-of-12 in the first frame.

Waltonville was 7-of-15 in the quarter as they took control.

Wayne City responded and got back into the contest.

Coach Corona's club got going after trailing by 17 in the early going of the second quarter.

Marcus Durham, a 6-foot-2 junior forward, scored all five of his points during a second quarter stretch.

The lefty scored on a shot in the lane and then found McKinney on a nifty back door pass to cut into the margin.

Dickey and Durham both, near the end of the quarter, converted three-point plays on drives to the basket.

In the final seconds of the half, Dickey made a steal near the foul line and his off-balanced shot found the mark to close the half at 29-19 Spartans.

Hitting 5-of-10 in the period, the Tribe went to the break down just ten.

Waltonville got three straight buckets by Webb (2) and Banach as they were on the cusp of a runaway victory.

Webb added yet another inside score, off yet another offensive rebound, for a 37-23 advantage.

Nevertheless Wayne City got the deficit back under double-digits before the third quarter ended.

Dickey hit his only 3-pointer of the game and then scored on a cut to the basket as the Indians trailed just 41-33 heading into the fourth.

After a basket by Newell got the lead up to 43-33, Wayne City got the game down to one possession with an 8-1 move.

McKinney, senior Kyle Sledge and Dickey all produced points with McKinney scoring twice with one of them coming on a fast break lay in.

When Dickey added a pair of free throws to the run, the Indians trailed just 44-41 with 3:46 remaining.

Unfortunately for Wayne City, this was the point where the gas tank hit empty.

The Indians missed eight 3-point attempts in the final quarter, with three of them coming on one possession.

Newell nailed down six consecutive free throws and Waltonville ended up making 12-of-17 from the line in the fourth quarter.

Malone closed out his senior regular season by putting in 3-of-4 free throws in the final :25.3 for the victory.

Neither of the MTC combatants shot the ball well on the night.

The Spartans ended up 17-of-44 from the floor (38.6 percent) while Wayne City wasn't that good even (18-of-50) as they hit just 36 percent.

Coach Corona saw hit team hit just 2-of-21 from the 3-point arc (9.5 percent) in the loss.

The Spartans, behind Webb, held a 32-22 rebounding advantage with 12 of the boards coming on the offensive glass.

“He (Webb) has worked so hard to get better and it has paid off. His conditioning is much better than it was last year,” said Coach Lowery. “I left him in there in bit too long tonight and I had to get him out of the game late when we needed him but Jaxon (Haley) stepped in and gave us some good minutes.”

Waltonville committed 11 turnovers compared to nine by the Indians.

Both teams have their work cut out for them in the postseason.

Wayne City hosts a 1A Regional next week and Waltonville is also there.

The Spartans are the #8 seed and they will play Norris City-Omaha-Enfield on Monday night at 7 pm.

The Indians are the #7 seed and they will play long time MTC rival Webber Township on Tuesday night at 7:30 pm.

“It will be all over on Tuesday if we don't answer the bell. We can't have 16 minutes of lollygagging and then 16 minutes of hard nosed,” said Coach Corona. “Webber is our bitter rival so we better be ready to play.”

If the Spartans win they will take on sub-sectional #2 Woodlawn on Wednesday at 6 pm and Wayne City, if they win, would take on #3 Thompsonville at 7:30 pm Wednesday.

Ironically the seven teams entered in the 1A Wayne City Regional were all former members of the now defunct “Mid-South Conference” which disbanded at the end of the 2007-08 school year.

“It was good to get a win like this, to come out on top. We have played a lot of good teams down the stretch in games where we were on the other end where we would get beat by six or seven points,” said Coach Lowery. “It's was nice to be on the other side of that this year. It was good to get a win. We have played some good teams and now we get another good one on Monday night. We have some momentum going into next week and it is 'do or die' in the postseason. Hopefully we can bring the same energy Monday night.”

Midland Trail Conference
Wayne City
Wayne City (47) – White 0 1 0-0 3, McKinney 6 0 1-2 13, Horton 3 0 3-6 9, Sledge 1 0 1-2 3, Miller 1 0 0-0 2, Lewis 0 0 0-0 0, 2 0 1-1 5, Durham 2 0 1-1 5, Dickey 3 1 3-5 10, Cooper 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-16, 3FG-2, FT-9-16, PF-23.

Waltonville (55) – Newell 2 1 6-9 13, Malone 4 0 6-9 12, Haley 0 0 3-4 3, Tucker 0 1 1-2 4, Banach 4 0 1-3 9, Webb 6 0 2-2 14.
2FG-15, 3FG-2, FT-19-30, PF-14.

Fouled Out – McKinney, Miller - Wayne City.
Technical Fouls – Horton - Wayne City.