South Walton Seahawks pull in big road victory over Chipley

Tina Harbuck

Megan O’Neal drained six 3-pointers to lead the South Walton Seahawks in a 53-35 road victory over district opponent Chipley Tigers in a girl’s basketball action Monday night.

In addition to her six 3s, O’Neal made one field goal and four free throws for a total of 24.

Sophomore Seahawk Allee Coble also hit double digits with 12 points while junior Savannah Slade made 11 points.

Although the Seahawks are now 11-0 overall and 3-0 in district play, South Walton Coach Kevin Craig said there is still work to do.

In the last four or five minutes of the game, the Seahawks didn’t score.

“We missed layup after layup and turned the ball over,” Craig said.

Monday’s road game was a big test for the Seahawks.

“It’s playing on the road against a team in our district who has won it the last three years. They’re a team who are very quick and very athletic. We haven’t gone against that yet. And they really startled us at times,” Craig said.

“We were very inconsistent, but we made runs. They made a run at the end of the second and start of the third and we shut it down. We went up big at one time,” he said.

Early in the fourth, the Seahawks led by 30.

But with a big lead, “They get bored,” Craig said. “They lose their focus and they get bored and they get sloppy. It can be corrected but it drives me crazy. We looked terrible the last five minutes of the game.

“But it is the first week of December … and the bottom line is I’m happy we won on the road.”

Chipley scored first, but then South Walton answered with seven consecutive points. Coble and Gracie Ricci hit back-to-back baskets and then O’Neal swished up the first of her six 3-pointers of the evening right up the middle. Chipley picked up a couple of points from the foul line, and then Slade was fouled and hit the second of two tries. Coble came back with a shot from underneath to go up 10-4. Chipley’s Essence Williams nailed a basket from the side for the last Tiger score of the period. South Walton finished up the quarter with a pair of 3-pointers from O’Neal and a free throw from Slade for a 17-6 advantage.

At the start of the second quarter, Chipley again scored first on an outside shot from Mya Patton. South Walton came back with a trey from O’Neal, followed by a layup by Coble and then O’Neal came back with a little jump shot for a 24-8 lead. Chipley’s Brittany Lee nailed a 3-pointer. Seconds later, O’Neal was fouled and hit both free throws. Not letting up, O’Neal swished up her fifth 3-pointer of the game. Chipley hit a couple of back-to-back baskets and Slade a free throw. The Tigers’ Adriyana Jackson made a steal for a layup in the final seconds. South Walton led 30-17 at the break.

In the third, Chipley picked up where they left off and put up two quick layups to come within nine points of the Seahawks.

At that point, South Walton shut them down and put up eight consecutive points on a steal and a layup from Ricci, a couple of inside shots from Coble and two free throws from O’Neal. Chipley scored one more basket off a rebound, before the Seahawks retaliated. Slade drilled a 3-pointer, Coble hit an inside shot and Slade drove the lane for a layup and a 45-23 lead at the buzzer.

The Seahawks continued to rally at the start of the fourth, putting up eight consecutive points to stretch their lead to 30 points. But then South Walton missed a few layups and turned the ball over with Chipley finishing up the last four-and-a-half minutes with 12 straight points.

Up next for South Walton is a 6:30 p.m. road game Thursday at Arnold High School on Panama City Beach.