After trailing by 12 points, the Fort Walton Beach Lady Vikings rallied to post a 42-40 win over the visiting South Walton Seahawks Monday night at The Fort.
“It’s just a lack of consistency from our team,” said Fort Walton Beach Coach Holly McDaniel. “We got 24 offensive rebounds, but we gave up a lot of offensive rebounds. Our inside game has got to get better … it’s got to start producing.
To start the game, South Walton put up 12 points before the Vikings could get a shot to fall. Ellie Wiggins popped a pair of 3-pointers, while Noelani Warren put up a basket and a free throw and Diora Akramkhodjaeva two points. Aidan Collins also made a free throw for a 12-0 lead.
With 3:15 to go in the first quarter, Fort Walton finally got on the board with Nikayla Hamburg scoring on an inside shot. Seconds later, Destin's Samantha Sherer, who finished the night with 16 points, drained a 3-pointer. Collins hit two more from the foul line before the Vikings added three more points on a foul shot and a layup. In the final seconds, Wiggins scored a basket for the Seahawks and Madison Seiuli for the Vikings. South Walton led 16-10.
In the second quarter, Fort Walton came out and tied up the game with baskets from Sherer, Hamburg and Tamia Coooper. South Walton got the lead back momentarily on a pair of free throws from Collins. About midway of the period, the Vikings made a little run with Sherer leading out a pair of free throws and an outside shot. Hamburg finished the run with a put-back shot for a 22-18 advantage. South Walton evened the score again with Graesyn Lowry taking the ball inside for a couple of buckets. In the final seconds, Fort Walton pulled ahead with a long shot up the middle from Damia McLane. Fort Walton led 24-22 at the break.
In the third quarter, Fort Walton extended the lead with Sherer nailing a 3-pointer and then coming back with a jumper. Cooper went to the line, making one of two shots for a 30-24 lead. South Walton stayed right on the Vikings' heels and closed it down to a one-point game by the end of the period.
In the fourth quarter, South Walton got the advantage with Grace Neville making an inside shot. Fort Walton answered with a 3-pointer from Jazyah Barboe-Alford and steal and a layup from Sherer for a 39-35 game.
South Walton took the lead one last time, 40-39, on a basket and three free throws.
With 1:42 left to play, Fort Walton’s Alexsia Gilliam drilled a 3-pointer from the right corner to take the lead for good. South Walton still had a couple of chances but couldn’t get a shot to fall.
“We had a chance … we had shots, they just didn’t go,” said South Walton Coach Kevin Craig. “The effort was great. They competed.
“If anything I think they gained some confidence tonight. But we still lost the game. We can’t let that go,” Craig said.
Up next for Fort Walton is a 6:30 p.m. game at home Thursday against Choctaw. South Walton will travel to Paxton to play in the Cats Against Cancer Tournament. South Walton plays Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Paxton and then at 1 p.m. Saturday against Pleasant Home.