Special to Highlands Today
The Walker Memorial Eagles broke open a close game in the second half to win the girls Class 2A-District 6 basketball tournament with a convincing 62-40 thrashing of Kissimmee City of Life Academy on Saturday night.
City of Life earned a spot in the finals after upsetting the No. 2 seed and host school Victory Christian Academy 44-32 on Tuesday night.
Walker Memorial, the No. 1 seed, advanced by defeating Lake Wales Vanguard School by a score of 53-20.
A pair of 3-point baskets had City of Life down 9-8 after one quarter in Saturday night games.
Walker trailed 16-15 midway through the second quarter before the Eagles, behind freshman India Washington exploded on an 11-point run to lead at the half 26-16.
City of Life opened the scoring in the third quarter, but were quickly taken out of their game by the Walker full-court pressure defense.
Washington scored seven and guard Keziah Maranan poured in 10 as Walker Memorial took a 48-27 lead into the final eight minutes.
The final period was played virtually even as the eagles cruised to their second consecutive district championship.
Jaden Langer was a standout for City of Life, scoring 15 points, including three baskets from beyond the arc.
Walker Memorial turned the game around with strong defense and a dominant effort by Washington.
The freshman posted 24 points and 13 rebounds, earning cheers from the crowd.
She had excellent backup from Maranan with 18 points and six assists, and forward Toni Garcia with 10 points, 15 rebounds and five steals.
As district champion, Walker Memorial Academy will host a regional game on Thursday.
"Our defense turned the game around in the second half, and the play of freshmen India and Keziah - a combined 42 points - broke the game open," said coach Bill Farmer.
"The solid play of Toni Garcia at both ends of the floor and ball-handling from point guard Lisette Marasigan contributed to a true team win."