The Watauga High basketball teams earned a split on Friday night down in Sawmills.
In game one. the WHS women (2-4 overall; 0-1 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference), who were simply embarrassed by Ashe County on Wednesday night, put together a determined effort on in Friday's league opener against South Caldwell. Unfortunately, the Pioneers came up short as South Caldwell (9-0; 2-0) prevailed, 52-44.
The Spartans had three players in double figures. Matison Hall led the way with 16 points, with 11 of those coming in the second half. Shaina Sams chipped in with 14 points; Katie Sharpe had 10. Brooke Rhodes led WHS with 16 points.
"I was much happier with the effort tonight," said WHS coach Klay Anderson. "We were very aggressive and we created some match-up problems for them. If we can play like this on a consistent basis, I feel we can win some games in this conference."
Trailing 23-13 midway through the second quarter, the Pioneers put together a seven-point run to close out the first half and only trailed by three at the intermission. But the Spartans, who were missing Brooklyn Boston (out with a broken finger) eventually built their biggest lead at 12-points by the fourth quarter. The Pioneers kept chipping away, however. And a three-point field goal by Shelby Gilliam cut the lead to five at 47-42 with 1:05 to play. But WHS never got any closer.
"This is a tough place to play," Anderson said. "But I'm proud of my girls. They really worked hard and pushed a conference champion to the limit."
Tori Wright of the Pioneers missed her third consecutive game with an ankle injury and Kendyl Baird is out indefinitely with a broken bone in her elbow. She was injuried during last Wednesday game against Ashe County.
In the men's game, the Pioneers (5-1; 1-0 NW3A/4A) bounced back from their first loss of the year by pounding South Caldwell 86-64 in their conference opener. The Pioneers, who trailed 7-2 early on, finally came to life thanks to the aggressive play of senior Damian Edwards.
Edwards led five players in double-figures with 21 points. He scored 16 points in the first half, including three trifectas.
"It's not cockiness, but confidence on our part." Edwards said. "We have a lot of seniors on this team, and our goal is to play strong every night. The loss at Ashe County was very disappointing (Wednesday) night, but we were anxious to get back out here. (South Caldwell) tried to slow us down, but we just took the game over."
The Pioneers outscored South Caldwell 22-9 in the second quarter and built a commanding 44-28 halftime lead. The lead eventually grew to 29 points in the second half. Jake Pifer finished with 16 points, Caleb Watson, Will Koppenhave and Kyle Chambers each had ten points. Jordyn Propst led the Spartans with 18 in the losing cause.
"I knew they were going to come out and play hard against us." said WHS coach Rob Sanders. "This (the South Caldwell gym) is a great basketball atmosphere, and its also a tough place to play, and its a tough place to win. But this is a big win for us. It's not only a conference win, but it's also a (Class) 4A win, and it allows us to keep pace with Alexander Central (which defeated Fred T. Foard in its conference opener Tuesday night)."
Both the WHS men and women return home to play West Caldwell Tuesday night. It will be Watauga's second home game of the year, and its first home game since the season opener on November 23. The Pioneers are back on the road Wednesday night as they travel to Moravian Falls to play Wilkes Central.
Our coverage Tuesday for the West Caldwell game begins at 6 pm on Oldies 100.7 FM.
1 2 3 4 T
WHS 8 12 13 11 - 44
S.CALDWELL 12 11 18 11 - 52
WHS: MARGOLIS 1, SHIPP 7, GILLIAM 7, ALFORD 6, HARRELSON 3, RHODES 16, WILSON 4.
S.CALDWELL: SHERRILL 2, YOUNCE 2, HALL 16, SHARPE 10, SAMS 14, LANE 8.
1 2 3 4 T
WHS 22 22 23 19 - 86
S.CALDWELL 17 9 14 24 - 64
WHS: PIFER 16, GREER 5, WATSON 10, QUINN 4, POULOS 2, KOPPENHAVER 10, EDWARDS 21, CHAMBERS 10, HALL 6, POGOLOFF 2.
S.CALDWELL: DILLARD 2, REDDING 6, EVANS 3, PROPST 18, HODGE 6, FANN 2, CAMPBELL 6, BARNES 5, FOX 10, DRUM 2, BOWMAN 4.
JV GAMES: WHS GIRLS DEFEATED SOUTH CALDWELL 43-31; WHS BOYS LOST TO SOUTH CALDWELL 46-42.
NW3A/4A RESULTS ON FRIDAY NIGHT:
HIBRITEN 42, ST. STEPHENS 31
HICKORY 92, FRED T. FOARD 58
HIBRITEN 53, ST. STEPHENS 47
HICKORY 90, FRED T. FOARD 40
ASHE COUNTY @ ELKIN PPD (WEATHER)