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Basketball: Emma Hempker sets scoring record but Danes fall in 1st round
02242023 DENMARK
Denmark's Hannah Lopez (20) guards a Walton player during a Class 7A state first-round matchup Tuesday in Cobb County. (Photo courtesy of Marietta Daily Journal)

The Walton Raiders girls basketball team defeated the Denmark Danes by a score of 65-60 Tuesday at the Walton High School gymnasium in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs.

The first half saw a neck-and-neck race with the Danes taking an early lead followed by Walton taking a 19-14 lead after the first quarter and a 34-28 lead at halftime. However in the second half, the Raiders took control of the game, saw the lead grow to double-digits and never looked back.

The Region 5-7A champion Raiders outscored the No. 4 seed Danes 20-9 in the third quarter — including a 17-2 run by Walton, largely due to Lexy Harris’ presence in the paint. Almost every possession saw Harris driving the ball through the middle of the court, where she scored nine points in the quarter.

Down 54-37 with one quarter remaining, hope appeared to be dwindling for Denmark (7-22).

However, the Danes’ Emma Hempker had a monster fourth quarter, scoring all 23 of Denmark’s points in the quarter, including four baskets from 3-point territory. It was enough to bring the final score to just a five-point margin, but unfortunately for the Danes, it was too little, too late.

Hempker was by far the highest scorer of the night for Denmark, as she totaled a school-record 47 points in the game. The junior hit seven treys and went 10-for-10 at the foul line. The next highest scorer on the team was Hannah Lopez with nine.

On the other half of the court, points were much more spread out. Harris scored 15 points, as did Graycen Ehlen. Other notables for Walton were Alice Zhang with nine points and Kate Bagley with eight.

The win puts Walton (19-9) into the second round of the 7A state tournament. The Raiders will face Central Gwinnett on Friday after the Black Knights’ win over North Gwinnett.