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February 26, 2013
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Chris Walker has carried his Holmes County (Bonifay) team on his 6'10" shoulders most of his high school career.
The FHSAA Class 1A playoffs have been no exception.
Walker took his size to the Lakeland Center today for the 1A semifinals, and came away with a triple-double as Holmes County knocked off Hawthorne, the top-ranked team in 1A, 51-48.
The Florida signee went for 20 points, 13 rebounds and 13 blocks to lead the Blue Devils into the 1A championship game Wednesday afternoon at 4:35 against the West Gadsden (Greensboro) Panthers. West Gadsden cruised past Union County (Lake Butler) 76-51 in the other 1A semifinal.
Walker almost had a triple-double in the first half, and played only sparingly in the fourth quarter when he picked up his fourth foul on a technical foul early in the final period.
With Walker out, Hawthorne made a run to cut into a 12 point Holmes County lead but couldn't get a shot off to tie before the final buzzer.
When he was in, Walker wreaked havoc on the Hawthorne offense most of the game.
"We know Chris is a special talent," Hawthorne coach Greg Bowie said. "But 13 blocks, that's a lot. Some of them we took at him, but he worked for some of those blocks as well."
Walker battled with Hawthorne's star sophomore Ed Porter most of the game. While Porter did lead Hawthorne with 16 points, he came away very impressed with Holmes County's big man inside.
"You have to go right at Chris," Porter said. "We did do that at times, but sometimes he's just going to get a block. It's just tough to get around him." Despite the triple-double, Holmes County coach Poe White didn't think this was one of Walker's better games.
"Out post player (Walker) played ok," White said. "But he didn't play as well as his games the last few weeks."
Walker had 28 points, 22 in the second half, in a upset of Malone in the 1A-1 regional final. He realizes how much he has improved since his freshman year, but knows what he has to improve before he takes the court as a Florida Gator.
"I need to get stronger in the summer," Walker said. "And I need to work on my footwork and post moves as well as my jump shot before college. But I plan on doing that."
White realizes his big man needs to work on some things as well, but is confident Walker will get it done.
"He is an unbelievable talent, just great athletically," White added. "He does need to get stronger, but he works hard and he will get it done.
Before heading to Gainesville, Chris Walker has his sights set on a 1A state title Wednesday afternoon. The Holmes County Blue Devils get to count on him one more time.