Waltonville rebounds with league clinching win
Josh Ralls scores 20; Spartans dominate with school record 27th win

BLUFORD - After having gone through a tough stretch of games and difficult times, the Waltonville Spartans got back to doing the things that got them a high state-wide ranking and the attention of the basketball fans around the state.

With a 'gleam in their eye' and some 'bounce in their step', coach Mike Denault's Spartans turned back the clock to the form that got them all the recognition in the first place.

Pounding the ball inside to Josh Ralls and Jon Kash, Waltonville used its size advantage to frustrate Webber Township on both ends of the floor.

Forcing the Trojans into a poor shooting first half and outrebounding their conference rivals 39-21 for the night, Waltonville equaled the school record for victories in a season at 27 with a convincing 67-36 win Friday night at Bluford.

With the victory the Spartans are now the Mid-South Conference champs while becoming the sixth straight league titlist to go unbeaten in winning all 12 games.

"This is the first time since the last time we played them (Webber) that we had that 'look in our eye'," said Denault, whose club is now 27-2 heading into the Woodlawn Class A Regional next week. "We missed some easy shots tonight but it was a heck of a lot better than the last time we played. I am pleased with our performance tonight, defensively especially. Tonight we got back to the way we are used to doing things. We kinda slept-walked through January and part of February and I hope we can use this to propel us through the regional next week."

Ralls, the Spartans 6-foot-7 junior forward, took control of the game in the first quarter.

With Webber Township struggling to guard him - and also offensively - the Trojans fell behind early.

It took a few minutes before the offense caught up with the 'D' for Waltonville.

However when it did, the avalanche left no survivors.

Ralls hit his first two buckets on drives to the basket making it 4-0 with 4:31 to go.

In that time frame, Webber Township missed its first five shots.

That fifth missed shot turned into a rebound and a fast break basket by Anthony Lowery, forcing Webber Township head coach Clarence Gross to burn his first timeout.

Cody Swartz scored his first basket of the game and his teams' first bucket at the 3:51 mark.

But that was as close as the Trojans would get the rest of the game as the Waltonville wagon's taillights got dimmer and dimmer the rest of the way.

The Mid-South champs scored ten consecutive points with Kash scoring twice near the basket and Ralls doing the same.

A Ralls conventional three-point play with :36.6 remaining made it 16-2.

Webber's Derick Trout and Waltonville's Jordan Kabat traded baskets and it was 18-4 at the first stop.

Webber was just 2-of-11 in the opening stanza, digging themselves a gargantuan scoring hole.

Waltonville ended the drama of the outcome with a 14-3 run to open the second quarter.

Jared Talbert, Kabat, Derek Tepovich and Brandon Spotanski all got into the scoring fun. Spotanski's 10-footer from the right side with 5:17 left opened a huge scoring gash at 26-6.

Ralls (4) and Kash (2) added six points to the run, which ended at 32-7.

The Trojans scored the final four points of the quarter, with Trout hitting a shot from the right wing and two free throws from Swartz.

But at 32-11 at the break, the dye was cast.

A 7-2 run late in the third quarter ballooned the lead to 46-17. One of the baskets was a nice drive by Ralls past Swartz to the basket.

"They (Waltonville) are a tough matchup for us because we don't have a lot of size or strength inside and they give everyone problems with their size," said Webber Township head coach Clarence Gross. "And their guards are deceptive with their quickness. We tried switching around but with both Ralls and Kash you have to 'pick your poison' and Cody (Swartz) couldn't guard them both."

Webber Township never let down, despite the seemingly lost cause.

Bryce McKenzie and Trout hit 3-pointers for the Trojans to close out the third quarter, making it 46-23 Waltonville heading into the final frame.

Adam Kitowski, who spent most of the first half on the Waltonville bench with foul problems, came out with a strong second half.

He scored 13-points in the game, 11 in the last eight minutes.

An 8-0 run in the final moments gave the Spartans its largest spread at 67-33.

A 3-pointer by Webber senior Jon Truitt closed the scoring on the Trojans' senior night loss.

Waltonville shot 30-of-60 from the field for an even 50 percent on the night as they turned things around after an embarrassing loss to Dieterich last Saturday. They did their damage from inside the arc as they missed all six of their 3-point attempts.

Ralls topped all scorers with 20. Kitowski added 13 and Kash 10 as all eight Waltonville players that saw action produced points.

"He (Ralls) hasn't wanted the ball consistently like he showed tonight and we have wanted him to play that way all season," added Denault. "He loves this game and when he plays like he did tonight the 'sky is the limit'."

Trout was the only double figure scorer for Webber with 14.

The rebounding edge was critical and with eight of their 13 turnovers coming in the first half, the Trojans didn't help their chances.

"I think tonight showed that Waltonville is the class of our conference and they are head and shoulders better than anyone in this league this year," said Gross, whose club had a shot to tie the Spartans for the league crown with a win.
"What can you say, the first season is over and the next season starts next week. I wish them well in their regional and I hope they make a deep run and represent our conference."

Webber Township saw its overall record dip to 21-6 on the season and 10-2 in the MSC with both losses coming to Waltonville.

But when putting into perspective the Webber Township regular season, coach Gross talked about respect for his program.

"Our kids kind of had a chip on their shoulders this season with a lot of people picking us to win less than ten games," Gross finalized. "We overachieved a lot this season and beat some teams we probably shouldn't have beaten. The kids wanted to prove people wrong and I think we did."

Webber heads to the Fairfield Class A Regional next week and will play Grayville Tuesday night.

The Spartans are the top rated team at the Woodlawn Class A Regional and will play Tuesday also, hooking up with the winner of the Christopher/Woodlawn game from Monday.

"This was a big game for us. It was the conference championship game and they (Webber) won this thing last year going away at 12-0 and we wanted to do that this year," Denault said.

Webber Township

Waltonville (67) - Owens 0 0 0-0 0, Ralls 9 0 2-2 20, Tepovich 1 2-4 4, Lowery 3 0 2-2 8, Kitowski 6 0 1-1 13, Kash 5 0 0-0 10, Kabat 3 0 0-0 6, Talbert 1 0 0-0 2, Spotanski 2 0 0-0 4.
2FG-30, 3FG-0, FT-7-9, PF-15.
Webber Township (36) - McKenzie 2 1 0-0 7, Henry 0 0 0-0 0, Trout 4 2 0-0 14, Loker 3 0 1-2 7, Swartz 1 0 3-4 5, Truitt 0 1 0-0 3, Chambliss 0 0 0-1 0, Scott 0 0 0-0 0, Kiel 0 0 0-0 0, Sumner 0 0 0-0 0, Snow 0 0 0-0 0, Brookman 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-10, 3FG-4, FT-4-7, PF-14.
Fouled Out - None.
Technical Fouls - None.