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Just how far can a 5-foot, 106-pound freshman point guard lead a varsity girls basketball team?
Southern Nash certainly likes the direction in which Jermia Walker is steering them.
The diminuitive Walker responded with 17 points and five steals as the Ladybirds tipped off 3-A Big East Conference competition with a 49-24 rout of struggling Fike.
With Walker running the show, Southern Nash, with Friday night’s win at Fike, exceeded last season’s win output and won a Big East game for the first time since the 2017-18 season. The Ladybirds, now 5-5, won just one conference game in 2018-19.
“They (teammates) help me out and I help them out,” explained the smiling Walker, the first cousin of Southern Nash football superstar and current Wake Forest University freshman Quinton Cooley.
“Big things are coming our way. Nothing is the same at Southern Nash; we expect more.”
The Lady Golden Demons stumbled to 0-2 in the Big East and to 2-11 overall with their ninth consecutive loss.
The score was knotted 9-9 on a free throw from Fike freshman Avery Lentz to start the second-quarter scoring.
Walker then took over with nine consecutive points and an assist to Danielle Whitley to cap a 11-0 spree. The Ladybirds surged out to a 20-9 margin before Fike junior Janiseya Anderson ended her team’s drought with a free throw at the 2:47 mark.
Junior Brooke Lucas stepped up as the Ladybirds ended the third quarter with a 10-0 tear that resulted in a 37-18 cushion.
Fike had staged a mild threat on a pair of 3-pointers from sophomore Jada Lamm. However, Lamm left the game after taking an elbow to her ribs — and did not return.
“She’s a player,” Southern Nash head coach Jordan Bass commended Walker. “She could have started for us last year as an eighth grader. The girls know she can play and she gives the other girls confidence.
“As a coach, you see a lot of negative stuff. But I was pleased. On defense, we played well at the start and at the end of the game. I was pleased to see that we didn’t get comfortable. The girls are learning each other.”
Walker was complemented by senior Rayna Bailey with 11 points, Lucas with eight and 6-foot senior Jalisa Williams with 10 points.
The Ladybirds connected on their first three shots, forged a 7-2 margin and never trailed.
Lamm’s 10 points paced Fike. Lentz claimed nine rebounds.
“Just to know where she was and get out there — which we didn’t do a good job of,” Bass remarked of the Ladybirds’ defensive assignment against Lamm.
“We are usually a decent 3-point shooting team,” said Fike head coach Jeff Nelson. “Then in the second half, we started out missing wide-open layups.
“We are young and very inexperienced. We tried to tell them what they needed to do, but they were doing their own thing. We fell apart. We’ve got to start learning from our mistakes. It’s not easy; it’s frustrating.”
SOUTHERN NASH (49)
Whitley 4, Smith, Walker 17, Hargrove, Foster 4, Lucas 8, Gaure, Joyner 2, Blackmon, Williams 3, Bailey 11.
J. Anderson 7, Williams 2, Curlings, Wilder, Barber, Harris, Howard, Artis, Lendz 3, Ragan, Lamm 10, S. Anderson, Strickland.
Score by quarters:
Southern Nash 9 16 12 12 — 49
Fike 8 2 8 6 — 24