Sam Gammons buried a game-winning shot at the horn Wednesday night as Ashe County High defeated
Watauga 53-51 in a non-conference game at Lentz-Eggers Gym.
Gammons, who finished with 16 points, nailed his game-winning shot from just inside the three-point line. It handed Ashe County (5-1) its fifth consecutive win and its third win at WHS in the last ten years.
"Gammons was the last guy we wanted to take that shot," said WHS coach Rob Sanders. "He's an excellent shooter, and he nailed it. It glanced off the glass a bit before it went in. But lucky or not, a good shooter makes his own breaks, and Gammons is a great shooter in the clutch."
It was Ashe County's first win at the new Lentz-Eggers Gym, and its first win in Boone since the Tommy Spagnolo era (in 2008-09). And the Huskies, who boast a stingy defense, did an excellent job shutting down WHS's leading scorer, Jake Pifer.
The senior, who came in averaging more than 24 points a game, was held to 13 points. And with the Pioneers trailing 50-49 with 20 seconds left, Pifer, who was visibly frustrated throughout the game, missed a pair of free throws that would have given his team the lead.
"They did a great job frustrating Jake tonight," Sanders said. "They never allowed him to find a comfort zone. He had to make a lot of adjustments on the fly. It's was a frustrating night for him, and for us."
Matt Proffitt, who turned in a double-double (20 points and 15 rebounds) in Tuesday night's Northwestern 3A/4A Conference opener against Fred. T. Foard, was held to nine points and seven rebounds. And he also his hands full trying to stop Zeb Richardson of the Huskies. Richardson, who scored 14 points in the first half, finished with a game-high 21 points.
"Zeb is a great player," Sanders said. "Matt did all he could. We brought Ben (Howser) in to speed us up a bit, and Ben did a good job providing backside support for Matt. But Richardson is tough down low and he moves real well on the floor. He really made us work on defense."
And the Pioneers, who displayed a great work ethic in the opening stanza, fell apart in the second period. WHS, which led 21-13 after one, only scored all of five points in the second quarter and trailed 30-26 at the break. The Huskies outscored WHS 17-5 in the frame.
The Huskies eventually built an eight-point advantage in the second half before the Pioneers rallied, and tied the game with 5.8 seconds remaining in regulation time on a pair of free throws by Proffitt. But Gammons decided the issue with his game-winning shot from the far corner.
"We told our guys during the time out, 'it's going to get extremely loud in here after (Proffitt) makes those free throws, so everybody shout time out to stop the clock,'" Sanders said. "Everyone started shouting, and I was breaking all the rules by stepping on the floor yelling for a time out. But the officials didn't see us."
And Sanders wasn't real happy with the way the Pioneers hit a snag offensively, especially after their jack-rabbit start in the first quarter.
"Give Ashe County credit, they're a very good defensive team," Sanders said. "But we just quit working in the second quarter. We got comfortable. And you can't do that in games, whether its a rivalry game like tonight for bragging rights, a conference tournament game, or state-playoff time. We have to have a high intensity level on the floor, and we just didn't have it tonight after the first quarter."
The Pioneers travel to Hickory Friday night.
ASHE COUNTY 53, WHS 51
1 2 3 4 TOTAL
ASHE COUNTY 13 17 13 10 - 53
WATAUGA 21 5 10 16 - 51
ASHE COUNTY: RICHARDSON 21, GAMMONS 16, STAFFORD 9, MOORE 2, GAMBILL 5.
WHS: PIFER 13, POULOS 4 (4 ASSISTS), PROFFITT 9 (7 REBOUNDS), MARGOLIS 2, HOWSER 6, KOPPENHAVER 4, STURGILL 4, CHAMBERS 9.
HUSKIES BEAT WHS---AGAIN!
Call it the Laura Foster hex, or whatever comes to mind, but one thing is for sure, the Huskies just have Watauga High's number right now.
And Wednesday night's game was a great example of that. The Pioneers (2-4), coming off a huge win in their Northwestern 3A/4A Conference opener against Fred T. Foard Tuesday night, were considered the favorites going into their matchup with Ashe County. And it looked like the Huskies long winning streak might be in jeopordy.
But as usual, the Huskies, a shadow of the team they've been the last several years, found a way to upend the Pioneers 36-34 at Lentz-Eggers Gym in a non-conference game Wednesday night. Ashe County (2-4), following a sluggish first quarter by both teams, found its scoring touch in the second period. Trailing 7-6, Hannah Margolis hit a layup to start the second period, giving the Pioneers their final lead of the game. From that point on, the Huskies were in complete control. A 7-0 run, sparked by senior MacKinsey Johnson, allowed Ashe County to grab a 15-8 lead. The lead eventually grew to ten points in the first half.
"What can I say," said WHS coach Klay Anderson. "We were in a lull and never got it going on offense. We just couldn't hit our shots. It was very frustrating."
It's the 16th consecutive time that the Huskies have beaten the Pioneers. WHS hasn't beaten Ashe County since the 2003-04 season. Anderson is 0-9 against the Huskies.
"Just because (Ashe County coach) Laura's (Foster) down a little bit this year doesn't mean she's not going to get the most out of her girls," Anderson said. "I don't care who those players are. She will find five players that are willing to work hard on the floor. They really hustled tonight, and we didn't have an answer."
The Huskies increased their lead to 12 points midway through the third quarter before the Pioneers, led by Margolis, finally got thing going. Trailing 28-16, WHS closed out the third quarter with a seven-point run and got within five at 28-23. And WHS kept chipping away as the Pioneer outscored Ashe County 6-1 to start the fourth quarter, making it 30-29.
But former Pioneer Hannah Shipp, who transferred to Ashe County last summer, buried a huge three from the left side, that made it 33-29. The Pioneers made one last run and got it to one at 34-33. A steal by Margolis at the time line set the stage for Whitney Dunnigan's layup with 26 seconds left.
But the Pioneers couldn't pull it out. Freshman Morgan Hudler hit a pair of free throws down the stretch, and Dunnigan's desperation three at the horn was way off the mark.
"We wanted to foul Hudler because she was showing some emotion the floor," Anderson said. "But she settled down and hit two big free throws with the game on the line, and that proved to be the difference in the game. I'm not making excuses, but we just didn't play well and they did. It's that plain and simple."
Johnson led the Huskies with 15 points; Shipp finished with eight. Margolis and Savanna Wood (four three pointers) both led the Pioneers with 12 points each.
The WHS men and women travel to Hickory Friday night. Our coverage begins at 6 p.m. on Oldies 100.7 FM.
NOTES: Ashe County defeated the JV girls, 38-23. Rachel Foutz had nine points in the loss; Ryan Loflin had five.....The JV boys (8-0) won their eighth consecutive games by blasting Ashe County, 41-26. Trevor Eggers paced WHS with ten points; Eli Gailes had nine points and four assists. Jake Chasteen had seven points, eight rebounds and four steals; Matt Lambert had six points, Cameron Baker had five points, eight rebounds, three blocked shots and four steals......And we have a correction to pass along. It was reported yesterday that former WHS coach Marc Payne was 0-9 lifetime against the Pioneers in Boone. Actually, Payne is 3-7 with Wednesday night's win.
ASHE COUNTY 36, WHS 34
1 2 3 4 TOTAL
ASHE COUNTY 7 15 6 8 - 36
WATAUGA 6 8 9 11 - 34
ASHE COUNTY: JOHNSON 15, HUDLER 4, SPELL 2, WILSON 4, MALONEY 3, SHIPP 8.
WHS: WOOD 12, DUNNIGAN 4, WALLACE 2, EPPLY 2, SEAMONE 2, MARGOLIS 12.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT'S GAMES:
ASHE COUNTY 36, WATAUGA 34
HICKORY 63, REAGAN 46
McDOWELL 59, EAST BURKE 50
ASHE COUNTY 53, WATAUGA 51
HICKORY 80, REAGAN 76 (3-OT)
EAST BURKE 79, McDOWELL 62
(MEN & WOMEN)
WATAUGA @ HICKORY
ALEXANDER CENTRAL @ FRED T. FOARD
SOUTH CALDWELL @ ST. STEPHENS
CHALLENGER @ HIBRITEN