Class AAA Girls: Walker-Kimbrough leads Hopewell Vikings to 50-34 win over South Park
Hopewell's Jharrin Gill is lifted by her teammates after the Vikings defeated South Park for the Class AAA title Saturday.
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Shatori Walker-Kimbrough played Saturday's WPIAL championship game with a wrap on her hand after suffering a thumb injury in the semifinals.
It didn't slow her down.
Walker-Kimbrough put forth one of the greatest performances in WPIAL championship history in leading the Hopewell Vikings to a 50-34 win against South Park in the Class AAA final at Palumbo Center.
The top-seeded Vikings (24-2) captured their third title in seven seasons and it was Walker-Kimbrough who led the way with a spectacular effort. A junior guard and one of the top players in the WPIAL, she finished with 35 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks. She was 8 of 19 from the field and 16 of 16 from the free-throw line. The 16 free throws were a Class AAA championship record.
It was a showing that awed many in attendance, but one of them was not Hopewell coach Jeff Homziak, who has watched Walker-Kimbrough have performances like that for three years.
"I see that every day," Homziak said smiling. "She's a special kid. A very unselfish kid. A kid that gets her teammates involved, yet she's to the point now that if she thinks she needs to take over the game, she'll take over the game."
Against No. 2 seed South Park (22-3), Walker-Kimbrough did whatever she wanted. She scored all but two of Hopewell's 21 first-half points and had 26 of the Vikings first 28 points. After averaging 25 points in the regular season -- the third best mark in the WPIAL -- she has scored at least 33 points in three of the Vikings four playoff games.
"It was an awesome display," South Park coach Reggie Wells said. "She really played a wonderful game. She was the difference."
In a game that was close until the early minutes of the fourth quarter, Walker-Kimbrough made perhaps the biggest shot of the night. Hopewell had led since going up by two points just before halftime, but South Park's Carly Zandier connected on a 3-pointer to cut the Vikings lead to 33-32 three minutes into the fourth quarter. Walker-Kimbrough responded with a 3-pointer from the right wing that upped the Vikings advantage to four and also ignited a 17-2 run to end the game.
"She wouldn't let us catch a breath at all," Wells said.
Hopewell's suffocating defense played a big part in that, too. The Vikings limited the Eagles to 22 percent shooting (11 for 49), forced 16 turnovers and allowed only one field goal in the final quarter. The Eagles were held to fewer points just once this season.
Defensively, Hopewell's central focus was limiting South Park's top two scorers -- Shelby Lindsay and Halie Torris. The duo combined for 44 points in the Eagles semifinal win, but against the Vikings they were non-factors, scoring only six points between them.
"We knew Shelby Lindsay and Torres were their two leading scorers and we really wanted to shut them down," Walker-Kimbrough said.
South Park stayed in the game because of 3-point shooting. The Eagles made six, including four by Ashley Mikelonis, who scored a team-high 15 points.
Shaniya Rivers scored eight points for Hopewell, but no other Vikings player had more than three. The Vikings were excellent from the free-throw line, making 27 of 30 shots, including 13 of 16 in the fourth quarter.
First Published March 4, 2012 12:43 pm