LYNN HAVEN — Nat Dixon stole the show. Holmes County stole the victory.
Dixon powered Mosley with a game-high 38 points, but Holmes County phenom Chris Walker was the difference down the stretch as the Blue Devils rallied for a 77-70 win in a matinee boys basketball game at the Jim Redfern Gymnasium on Friday.
Walker, who has committed to the University of Florida and is rated consistently as one of the dozen best basketball prospects in America, scored 11 of his 15 points in the game’s final 3 minutes to cap his team’s comeback from a double-digit deficit to start the fourth quarter. The Blue Devils (13-8) outscored Mosley 31-12 in the final quarter.
“When we got back in the game, we didn’t need to shoot any more threes,” Holmes County coach Po White said. “We could go back inside to our big guy (Walker). He helped us take the lead.”
Mosley (7-17) led 58-46 after three quarters, but a 17-2 run by the Blue Devils obliterated that margin and resulted in a 61-60 lead on Walker’s baseline drive and layin with 3 minutes remaining. Dixon later fired in a 3-pointer to give the Dolphins a 65-63 edge with 2:23 left, but that was the last time Mosley enjoyed the lead. Walker’s steal and ensuing dunk put Holmes County on top 66-65 with 2 minutes remaining, and he added another dunk following a Mosley turnover for a 68-65 advantage 13 seconds later.
Dixon gave the Dolphins hope with a 3-pointer to trim his team’s deficit to 72-70 with 36 seconds left, but Walker, Ty Russ and Jacky Miles Jr. combined to make five of six free throws in the final half-minute to seal the win. Walker also swatted away two shots in the final 40 seconds, finishing with seven blocks in all.
White said Walker just learned he has been invited to the McDonald’s All-American Game, where he will compete against the nation’s premier players at the United Center in Chicago on April 3. Although he went scoreless in the second and third quarters against Mosley, the length, talent and explosiveness all were apparent throughout the contest.
Many Mosley fans who derided Walker with chants of “overrated” early in the game were the same people chanting “We want Chris!” in the waning minutes of the third quarter as Walker was catching a breather on the bench.
Mosley has its own star player in Dixon, of course. The junior scored eight points in a 20-2 run spanning the first and second quarters, and Dixon finished with 16 points in the first half as Mosley built a 35-26 lead. He shredded Holmes County’s defense for 16 of Mosley’s 23 points in the third quarter, and the Dolphins led by as many as 16 points (48-32).
Walker said his team was fortunate to overcome the deficit.
“Sometimes in the first half we start off slow,” Walker said. “In the second half we picked it up. We showed a lot of heart.”
Russ led Holmes County with 19 points and a 9-for-9 effort from the foul line, and Miles added 14 points. Additionally, Clay Keen and Chris Newton were huge off the bench. Keen dropped in four 3-pointers en route to 16 points, and Newton chipped in with 11.
Mosley’s Tequan Ward flirted with foul trouble for much of the game but still managed to score 12 points. Josh Turner added nine points inside for the Dolphins.
- HOLMES COUNTY (77) — T. Russ 4 9-9 19, Miles 3 6-8 14, Williams 0 0-0 0, Thompson 0 0-0 0, Martinez 0 0-0 0, Moore 0 0-0 0, Walker 6 3-4 15, F. Russ 1 0-0 2, Newton 3 4-4 11, Aronhalt 0 0-0 0, Keen 6 0-0 16. Totals 23 22-25 77.
- MOSLEY (70) — Ward 5 0-1 12, Dixon 13 6-6 38, Harrison 1 0-1 1, Corbin 2 0-1 4, Harris 0 0-0 0, Doolan 0 0-0 0, Salazar 0 0-0 0, Turner 4 1-2 9, Alexander 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 7-11 70.
- Holmes County 10 16 20 31 — 77
- Mosley 18 17 23 12 — 70
- Three-point goals: HC 9 (Keen 4, T. Russ 2, Miles 2, Newton), Mosley 9 (Dixon 6, Ward 2, Harrison).