The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Sports

April 5, 2013

2012-2013 Dogwood Circle Boys' Basketball: Grapeland's Walker grows into leadership role

GRAPELAND — Grapeland junior Patrick Walker can score the basketball. That was never a secret.

Early in the season, Walker routinely put up 25-or-more points and, most of the time, the Sandies won.

But, as the season wound down and the playoffs loomed, Walker took on another role: All-around leader.

The junior didn’t combine for 30 points in the Sandies’ first two playoff victories, and still the Sandies won.

“You always knew the kid could score 30 every night,” first-year coach Owen Clifton said. “But to get where we wanted to go, it wasn’t going to be enough.”

Grapeland kept winning, all the way to the regional final, with Walker as its centerpiece. For his play during the 2012-2013 season, Walker has been named the Dogwood Circle boys’ basketball Player of the Year.

He had help this past year, to be sure. The addition of Jacolby Simpson — a fellow Dogwood Circle first-teamer — helped take some of the scoring load off of Walker’s shoulders.

But, Walker still managed to up his contributions, adding to his game in a different way.

“I was just trying to be a leader and help the other guys get points,” Walker said.

The year he put up, statistically, seems almost unreal. Along with his 23.8 points per game, Walker averaged seven assists. So, Walker had a hand in almost 38 points per game for the Sandies.

He also pulled down almost nine rebounds per game and swiped five steals per contest.

That’s where Clifton saw the biggest improvement from his star, on the defensive end of the floor.

“He kind of jokingly said, ‘Coach, I don’t really play too much defense,’” Clifton said. “I said, ‘Well, we’re going to change that.’ We wanted to full-court press a lot, and he’s so quick that he had to be the leader on that.

“He did a great job with it, and I really feel like his defensive game grew a lot.”

This growth allowed Walker to be a more complete player, and allowed him to constantly guard the best guard that Grapeland’s opponents had to offer.

That growth also helped lead the Sandies on the deepest playoff run the school had seen in Walker’s time on the court. It was the third-straight regional tournament for the Sandies, but the first regional final.

Grapeland fell to San Augustine, 92-77, in that regional final, but with the core of their team coming back are expected to challenge for a regional title once again next year.

As for that playoff loss, it’s not leaving Walker’s memory.

“We just have to play every game like it’s your last,” he said of next year’s mentality and what he takes from that loss. “It’ll make me work hard this summer.”

Clifton repeatedly talks about Walker’s desire to win and worry about nothing else, something somewhat rare in the modern athlete.

“He’s a great kid to coach, because he really just wants to win,” Clifton said. “I remember a playoff game, and we were really getting on a roll...and he’s scoring a whole lot, and we get to the playoffs and in the first game I think he had 13 points and 12 assists.”

It seems to be real. When asked about his thoughts on his great statistics from the past year, Walker revealed that he didn’t even know what they were until after the season, when Clifton told him about them.

“I really never looked at it, until (coach Clifton) told me,” Walker said of his stats. “I was just playing to win most of the time.”

Text Only
Local Sports