Walters’ big week sparks Hawks to wins

Brandon Walters

FRONT ROYAL — Everything came together for Brandon Walters last week.

The Skyline senior couldn’t have asked for a much better week as he helped lead the Hawks to three victories. Walters led the team in scoring each game and made some bIg plays to help the Hawks win.

“It was really good. My teammates just did a very good job getting me the ball and I tried my best to capitalize,” Walters said of his week. “For me, it was a really good week because I was able to put the ball in the hole. I feel like I just got more touches this week with the basketball, I was in better position to score, and I thought I did a pretty good job. My point guards did really well seeing the little windows where they can get me the ball, and they did a great job of it.”

“Brandon had a great week, obviously putting the ball in the hole better than he ever has,” Skyline coach Jacob Bates said. “I think he’s finally beginning to understand how to use his body — and I stress the word beginning — because he’s still a long ways away from where he could be and he knows that. He was huge for us all week and has been all season, really, so far. For us to come out and win three games, it stems from a lot of what he was able to do inside for us.”

Walters earned The Northern Virginia Daily Male Athlete of the Week for the week of Dec. 14-20. However, the week didn’t start off quite like he and the Hawks wanted it to.

Skyline struggled in the first half against Central on Dec. 15. Walters had only four points, and the Hawks trailed 26-20 at intermission. Then everything changed for Walters and the Hawks.

Skyline began getting the ball inside to the 6-foot-4 Walters and teammate Antwan Swain. Walters scored 15 points in the third period and the Hawks soared to the lead en route to a 63-54 victory.

“I was kind of upset with my own performance,” Walters said of the first half. “We saw the scouting report and their size was supposed to be a key for us. It was one of those moments where you say you know, ‘I’ve got to become a factor,’ and I told my point guards, ‘If you get me the ball, I won’t let you down.'”

Walters certainly didn’t let them down, and finished with a career-high 21 points and 10 rebounds. That first win of the season helped him and his teammates gain more confidence.

Two days later, Walters played a huge role in a 64-63 win over Handley. Walters finished with 20 points, including the game-winning free throw with 3.4 seconds left.

“Everyone has always thought of that moment when you’re on the line and everybody’s making all that noise,” Walters said. “I was smiling when I was on the line, but inside I was like, ‘If I make it, I do, if I don’t, I don’t. Either way I’ve got to do what I’ve done a thousand times — make a free throw.'”

Walters said he started out a little slow in that victory as well, but came on strong in the fourth period. He said it helped his confidence knowing that he had scored 16 points last year on Handley, and the Judges went to the Group 4A state final last year.

Walters capped off his week with an 11-point, seven-rebound performance against rival Warren County in a 51-39 victory.

“Warren County was great,” Walters said. “I felt like I probably should have capitalized more than I did, but playing your rivals … it’s always just fun to play in a game like that. The energy is crazy.”

Walters has played numerous sports over the years, including wrestling, cross country, football, baseball and basketball.

Walters has shown improvement over the last couple seasons, but this year his game is starting to take off. He is averaging just less than 13 rebounds a game and has become one of the top scorers on the team.

“He’s still so raw,” Bates said of Walters’ potential. “He wrestled in middle school and so he’s definitely still learning on the fly, but what has helped him is what he did in the offseason. He kept the basketball in his hands for the most part. He played football this year, but he still did what he could do to a least have a feel on basketball.

” … He understands the game in general more now.”

Walters is very excited for the team this season. The Hawks only won two games last season, and Walters believes they can be very successful the rest of the way.

“When we played that first game against Loudoun Valley everyone was saying, ‘Hey, you guys did great.’ Everybody was like, ‘Good job, you’re so much better than last year,'” Walters said. “Coach Bates and everybody was thinking the same thing, yeah, we might be a little better than last year, but last year was awful. We need to keep building off [last] week, and we’re not just going to settle for three wins. Even though that’s great that we’ve already won more than last year, but we need to keep building on it and get a lot better.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com