Lake Norman’s loss was Georgetown’s gain — a Texas-sized acquisition at that.
As a freshman, Kaitlin Walla averaged 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds to help Lake Norman’s girls basketball team, coached by her father Dave Walla, reach the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A Western Regionals for the first time in program history.
The Wallas moved to The Lone Star State following that 2009-10 season, and Kaitlin’s court savvy continued to soar. Last weekend, her high school career reached a crescendo.
On March 2, Kaitlin scored 11 of her 26 points in the fourth quarter to lead Georgetown past Dallas Lincoln 65-60 in the Texas 4A state championship. The senior rebounded Lincoln’s last shot and had the ball in her hands as the final buzzer sounded inside the University of Texas’ Frank Erwin Center.
“I threw it in the air and jumped and said ‘Yeah!’ ” Kaitlin recalled. “Then I collapsed. I was just like ‘Wow, I can’t believe we just did that.’ ”
Lincoln (36-5) led by seven in the fourth quarter, but Georgetown (34-4) rallied to claim its first state title since 1979.
A Texas State signee, Kaitlin made 9 of 15 shots from the field and converted 8 of 12 free-throw attempts. She also had seven rebounds and six assists. Coupled with her performance in the Feb. 28 semifinal win over San Antonio Brennan, which included 17 points, Kaitlin was named the Most Valuable Player of the 4A state tournament.
“All those things I sacrificed over the years … every second in the gym, every hard workout, it was all worth it for that moment,” Kaitlin said.
It was a gratifying moment for her father, too. Dave, his wife, Kim, as well as other family members were in attendance.
“That weekend was pretty much a perfect weekend for us,” Dave said. “The whole family could not have asked for a better outcome.”
Dave was an assistant coach at Georgetown in 2010-11, when the Eagles reached the Texas 5A state final and lost. Two years ago, the physics teacher left to start up the basketball program at nearby East View, which had just opened.
East View fielded its first varsity team this season and took some lumps. Georgetown dished out more than one lashing. Of course, that meant daughter got the best of dad. Kaitlin, who was past the age cutoff to enroll at East View, remained at Georgetown.
“A lot of people made a lot out of me coaching against Kaitlin,” Dave said. “It got some press. That first game, when they were doing introductions, I turned my back on her when she came over to shake hands. It was all in good fun.
“I just couldn’t be prouder of her. Each year she’s gotten better and better.”
A 5-foot-11 guard, Kaitlin averaged 16 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals per game this season.
In her mind, nothing, including stats, trumps the championship.
“It’s one of those moments you know you’re going to be proud of the rest of your life,” she said.
The Wallas’ lives used to revolve around the Lake Norman area. Some fond memories remain, and they stay in touch with friends.
Kaitlin will see some of her former acquaintances in two weeks when she briefly returns to North Carolina to be part of Lake Norman’s prom.
Leaving won’t be as hard this time.
“That’s where I grew up. That was my home. That part of it was really tough,” Kaitlin said. “All the other factors that went into it made it the best thing for me and my family….Looking back on it now, it was a great decision. I don’t know if I would’ve had this moment.”