Walker’s 41 points leads Thunderbirds past Eagles

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SWANTON – Before the season started, the Missisquoi boys basketball team set a lofty goal of wanting to score 100 points in a game at some point in the season.

The Thunderbirds didn’t quite reach that goal on Tuesday, but they were close, as they came away with a 95-51 win over Mt. Abraham.

“Scoring 100 points has been our goal all year, but 95 isn’t too bad,” said Walker. “We just played great defense all game long and were shooting the ball well as a team.”

It was an offensive showing for the Thunderbirds, with Walker, Riley Wilkin and Nick Cutting all scoring in double figures.

Adding up the point totals for just Walker and Cutting or Walker and Wilkin would have given the Thunderbirds more points than the Eagles scored as a team.

Walker finished with a game-high 41 points to go along with 11 rebounds and eight assists just missing a triple-double with him capping the game off with a dunk in the closing minute. He entered the game with 902 career points and is creeping up on 1,000. He will have at least two more games to try and reach that goal with a regular-season finale against BFA-St. Albans on Friday and at least one playoff game.

“Richard has only been playing varsity basketball for the last three years, so if he were to play as a freshman, he probably would already be to 1,000,” said Missisquoi assistant coach Bob Iannaco. “He’s such an unselfish player as well. He has had a bunch of triple-doubles this year and is averaging eight assists a game, and it’s that unselfishness that makes him such a great player and teammate.”

Wilkin finished the game with 19 points with most of his damage coming from 3-point range with six baskets from beyond the arc.

Cutting ended the game with 16 points with 13 coming in the second half.

Iannaco said he told the team before the game he wanted them to grab at least 10 offensive rebounds.

They ended the game with 20 offensive rebounds and 44 overall to help them come away with a big win. Cayden Theberge had 15 rebounds with eight offensive boards.

“20 offensive rebounds is huge,” said Iannaco. “That leads to second-chance points and we did a good job of hustling and fighting for those rebounds tonight.”

The Thunderbirds jumped out to a quick lead in the first quarter ending the first eight minutes ahead 26-12 behind three 3’s from Wilkin.

“Riley came out on fire from 3-point range in the first quarter,” said Walker. “That really set the tone for us throughout the entire game.”

From there, the Thunderbirds just increased their lead and never looked back, as the closest the Eagles got after two minutes into the second quarter was 15 points.

With the big lead, Missisquoi was able to feed Walker the ball to help him get baskets, as he looks toward 1,000 points.

“It was good to get the big lead, because we could push the ball to Richard and he could take some shots he normally wouldn’t without the big lead,” said Iannaco. “But he’s definitely not a player that would do it at the expense of the team, so it was nice to get that big lead, so he was able to take some shots and get 41 points tonight and the team is really buying into it and trying to help him get his name on the 1,000 point banner. And these kids all want to be a part of something special like that.”

The Thunderbirds improved to 15-4 on the season with three of those losses coming against undefeated Enosburg in the beginning of the season.

The other loss came against BFA-St. Albans, which will be the Thunderbirds opponent when they host their senior night Friday.

“Friday’s a huge game with the Lake Division Title on the line,” said Iannaco. “I expect a tough battle in here on Friday and hopefully we can get a good crowd for our senior night.”


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