NORTH AUGUSTA -- With a huge Region 3-AAAA matchup with perennial power Irmo looming in front of them, the North Augusta Yellow Jackets thought they could put their game on cruise control Tuesday night against Dutch Fork.
The Silver Foxes spoiled North Augusta's plan, however. For 16 minutes, it was Dutch Fork who played like the defending region champs. The Silver Foxes took a 24-23 lead into halftime, but the Yellow Jackets responded by dominating the boards and clamping down on Dutch Fork's perimeter game.
Tyrone Walker scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half to keep North Augusta undefeated in region play with a 52-43 victory.
The Yellow Jackets (20-2, 11-0) went on a 10-0 run to begin the third quarter while the Silver Foxes (13-9, 6-5) missed eight of their first nine shots.
Two offense rebounds by Walker on consecutive trips down the floor resulted in two buckets and a made free throw. Seven of Walker's 17 rebounds were offensive. Sean Mims and Randy Brown each added a fast-break basket to give North Augusta a 33-24 lead with 5:29 remaining in the third quarter.
The Yellow Jackets play host to Irmo on Friday for region supremacy. Walker admitted his team was flat at tipoff. He predicted North Augusta will come out focused in Friday's pivotal contest.
"We thought we could just walk through and get a win," Walker said. "We know how good we played in the second half and we can't get out to a slow start against Irmo."
The Lady Yellow Jackets (13-9, 6-5) pounded Dutch Fork (8-13, 1-10) 65-52. Tisha Mays' career-high 28 points coupled with Jessica Parker's 11 negated 36 points by Dutch Fork's Wendy Jones.
With College of Charleston assistant coach Jim Yarbrough in the stands watching Walker, North Augusta settled for perimeter shots in the first half. The Silver Foxes denied Walker the ball and forced a barrage of 3-point attempts.
The Yellow Jackets connected on just 2-of-11 first-half treys allowing Dutch Fork to build an 18-11 lead with 7:03 remaining in the second quarter. North Augusta coach Ron McKie told his team to look inside more often in the second half.
He also instituted a man-to-man defense which stifled Dutch Fork's smaller lineup.
"We didn't shoot the ball well and sometimes we forget about (Walker)," McKie said. "I told them to establish something inside then look to the outside. We knew we had a little more strength on the inside and we had to use it."
Coleman Bates led the Silver Foxes with 14 points.
Jimmy DeButts can be reached at 706-823-3221.
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