MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — Walters State entered Saturday's game against Chattanooga State with a half-game lead over Motlow State with two games to play. The Senators control their own destiny and with the performance they put up against the Tigers, other teams in the league should be very nervous, if not downright frightened.
After building an 18-point lead in the first half, the Senators put on a clinic in the early stages of the second half on both ends of the court as they hammered the Tigers 81-59.
Miles Thomas had a monster game for the Senators as he scored a game-high 23 points and added six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Walters State head coach Bill Carlyle said his sophomore sensation was unstoppable against the Tigers. "He is playing really well right now and if he doesn't get Player of the Week in our conference, I will eat my hat. I'm not so sure he shouldn't get National Player of the Week. Miles is playing so well and I am trying to get him to settle down and take that jumper when it comes, don't try to force it. He's everywhere and when he is in control, he's as good as there is."
Carlyle said he was happy with the total effort his team turned in on Saturday. "In the first half, I thought our guard defense was excellent. Lorenzo Ferrell is shooting about 40 percent from the field for them and as a team, they are shooting about 38 percent from the three and our game plan was to match up and force the three and we did a good job with that. This was probably one of the better defense jobs we have done this season."
Khiry Shelton added 17 points and eight rebounds for the Senators in the winning effort. Seth Lenard-Battle had 12 points and Kajuan Hale grabbed 11 boards as Walters State out-rebounded Chattanooga State 42-32 for the game. Jaden Rodriguez led the Tigers with 13 points and Lorenzo Ferrell and Anthony Booker each scored 10 points for Chattanooga State.
After a slow start, the Senators claimed the lead for good when Deontae Davis connected on a 3-pointer to give Walters State at 9-7 advantage. That was the first basket in a 13-2 run for the Senators that included seven points by Shelton. After Kobe Powell had a shot from deep, Lenard-Battle scored five consecutive points and then Shelton had a basket where he was fouled and hit the ensuing free toss to put the Senators up 31-13.
Walters State kept the offense going the remainder of the first half. Two free throws by Thomas gave him 11 for the half but Jaden Rodriguez hit a triple with two seconds to go to cut the Senators' lead to 42-24 at halftime.
Walters State was efficient in the first 20 minutes of play as they shot 47 percent (15-of-32) and held the Tigers to 28 percent (8-of-28) from the field which including only 1-of-10 from 3-point range.
Paris Taylor scored four points in an 11-2 scoring binge to open the second half. The Senators kept pouring it on as Thomas dunked all over a Chattanooga State defender and almost had another on the next possession but he was fouled on the play. He got the two points anyway at the line and then Shelton went to work as he scored five points that led to the Senators' biggest lead of the contest at 74-42. The Tigers scored 13 points down the stretch but it didn't really matter as the Senators rolled to the 81-59 final.
The Senators improve their tally to 22-7 overall and 13-4 in league play. Chattanooga State falls to 17-10, 9-7. Walters State plays the final game of the regular season next Saturday at Roane State and can secure the top seed in the tournament with a win.
"We are coming together and I like where we are," Carlyle said of his team at this point in the season. "We still aren't as smart or as disciplined as I would like but every day, we are getting a little bit better."