Well, the Watauga High women's basketball team has been a work in progress.
Afterall, head coach Klay Anderson has been trying to find a way to replace five players that are no longer with the team. But the Pioneers (1-2) are
slowly rounding into shape. They took their talents a step further Tuesday night and defeated West Caldwell 49-39 in Gamewell, NC, for their first win of the year.
Savanna Wood and Hannah Margolis paced the Pioneers. Wood buried four three pointers and finished with a season-high 16 points; Margolis finished with 14.
"We're growing up a little bit every time out," Anderson said. "We did a good job after our letdown in the second quarter, and came on strong in the second half. I was happy in how we finished this game."
The Pioneers put together an 8-0 run to close out the first quarter for a commanding 16-6 lead. But the offense wilted in the second quarter, and the Warriors, led by Brittany Dixon and Molly Steptoe
came charging back in the second period and cut the lead to one at 22-21 by halftime.
The Warriors continue their run in the second half. WHS led 29-28 after three before the Warriors, thanks to a conventional three-point play by Brittany Dixon, put the Warriors on top for the first time at 31-28 early in the fourth quarter. From there, the Warriors (1-3) opened up their biggest lead of the game at 35-31. But a 12-point run by the Pioneers gave them a 44-35 advantage and put the game out of reach.
"We're slowly becoming a seasoned team," Anderson said. "We have a lot of young players, but they're not going to mature unless we play in tight games like this. This wasn't as hostile an enviornment as Avery
was last Friday night, but we won our first game of the year and we did it on the road."
Kaelin McNeill and Whitney Dunnigan each added seven points for the Pioneers; Dixon led the Warriors with 14 points. Steptoe finished with eight points. Anderson is 6-0 lifetime against the Warriors.
WHS 49, WEST CALDWELL 39
1 2 3 4 TOTAL
WATAUGA 16 6 7 20 49
WEST CALDWELL 6 15 7 12 39
WHS: WOOD 16, MARGOLIS 14, McNEILL 7, DUNNIGAN 7, EPPLY 3, WELSCH 2.
WEST CALDWELL: DIXON 14, STEPTOE 8, CARTER 7, DULA 6, BOWMAN 2, CORPENING 2.
WHS MEN FALL TO WEST
Watauga High men's basketball coach Rob Sanders will have to wait another day for his 100th career win. The WHS mentor was denied the opportunity by West Caldwell as the Warriors upended the Pioneers 65-56 down in Gamewell, NC, Tuesday night. And the Pioneers (2-1), who suffered their first loss of the year, have had their problems winning in Gamewell.
They've only won twice in that building since 1998. The woes started early for WHS as the Pioneers missed their first seven shots from the floor. Jake Pifer finally hit WHS's first field goal, a three-pointer, with 2:57 left in the opening stanza. Pifer finished with a game-high 32 points, and he also tied a school record of seven three pointers set by Zack Greene and Chad Eppley in the 2007-08 season.
"Unfortunately for Jake, Zack and Chad's efforts both came in winning situations," Sander said. "Jake just put the team on his back and tried to become Superman. But when you do that, you almost have to hit every shot you take. He did all he could, but as a team, we just didn't play very well."
Matt Proffitt, who came in averaging 13 points and 13 rebounds a game, was WHS's next leading scorer with six points. But despite the shakey start, WHS seemed to find its niche in the second quarter.
Trailing 12-9 after one, the Pioneers put together a 13-2 run and took a 22-14 lead. But the Warriors finished strong and cut the lead to five at the break. A layup by Kalice Steptoe at the horn made it 24-19 at halftime. And the Warriors didn't let up; and the Pioneers never recovered.
WHS turned the ball over ten times in the third quarter alone, and they also committed two offensive fouls during the period. And while the Pioneers were stumbling around, the Warriors were methodically pulling away. They rallied to take a 36-31 lead after three, and they built a 19-point advantage by the fourth quarter.
And they did most of their damage at the free-throw line. Steptoe, who finished with a team-high 22 points, was 9-11 from the charity stripe in the second half. Deshawn Patterson, who finished with 14 points (all of them in the second half), was 10-13 at the foul line.
"And we kept fouling the same guys," Sanders said. "Those guys (Steptoe and Patterson) just killed us at the line. Give West credit. They ate up the clock, they were patient, and they simply outworked us on the boards."
The win also gave West coach Hank Newson, who coached under the legendary Danny Anderson for four years, his first career win. The Warriors had four players in double figures. Chirs Michaux finished with 11, Ashton Smith had ten.
The WHS men and women return home to play McDowell Wednesday night. Both the McDowell men and women are 4-2 on the young season, and they both lost Tuesday night. The McDowell women lost to R.S. Central, 41-40; the men lost 66-60. Our coverage begins at 6 p.m. on Oldies 100.7 FM.
NOTES: The JV girls picked up their first win of the year as they defeated West Caldwell, 31-21. Clare Harris had 18 points. The JV boys are 5-0 as they defeated West Caldwell, 40-31. Jake Chasteen had 15 points and seven rebounds; Cameron Baker had 12 points; Matt Lambert had four points, six rebounds and five blocked shots.
WEST CALDWELL 65, WHS 56
1 2 3 4 TOTAL
WATAUGA 9 15 7 27 56
WEST CALDWELL 12 7 19 29 65
WHS: PIFER 32, PROFFITT 6, HOWSER 5, CHASTEEN 4, KOPPENHAVER 4, CHAMBERS 5.
WEST CALDWELL: STEPTOE 22, PATTERSON 14, MICHAUX 11, ROBINSON 2, SMITH 10, DULA 6.