It wasn't pretty, but when you're mired in a four-game losing streak. you'll take it anyway you can.
That was the case Tuesday night as the Watauga High men's basketball team snapped its four-game losing streak
by knocking off Starmount 61-59 in overtime in the opening-round of the Alleghany Christmas Tournament in Sparta, NC. Ben Howser, who turned in a solid performance off the bench, put the Pioneers on top to stay in the overtime session.
Howser, who finished with ten points, came up with a steal, and fed Matt Proffitt on the break. Proffitt scored, snapping a 51-51 tie. A bucket moments later by Jake Pifer gave WHS a four-point advantage, and despite some shakey moments down the stretch, the Pioneers (5-5) hung on to win the game.
"It's organized chaos," said WHS coach Rob Sanders. "There's really no logical thinking to it. And no matter what the situation is, whether you're down by nine points, by seven, whatever the case is, our guys learned last (Thursday) at Wilkes Central that they can come back from a huge deficit."
And the Pioneers hung on, despite a late charge by the Rams. Leading 58-57 with 22 seconds remaining, Ethan Poulos was fouled on the inbounds pass and made both free throws for a three-point lead. Charlie Waggoner hit a jumper in the lane that made it 60-59 with 11 seconds to go. But DeWayne Mackey was pushed to the floor by Dillon Bray as he made his way across the time-line. Mackey made one of two free throws with 5.4 seconds left that gave WHS a 61-59 lead.
The Rams (4-5) pushed it up the floor and had two good looks at the basket, but Dillon Dobson's layup attempt was off the mark, and Waggoner's follow rolled off the rim and into the arm of Proffitt as the horn sounded.
"It's a nice win for the guys," Sanders said. "You don't have a lot of preparation time when you play in tournaments like this. We've had one practice for two games against two opponents we really don't know much about. Starmount is very athletic, and they got a couple of good looks at the end. Fortunately, they didn't score. We gave up a huge rebound, and if they score and we foul, they not only tie the game, but they have a chance to win it. But it's something we can learn from and build on."
The Rams have lost four straight. But the way the game started, the Pioneers were fortunate to be in contention at all. They got off to a sluggish start and fell behind 9-0 in the opening quarter. But the Pioneers finally found their scoring touch and came charging back to take a 17-15 lead at the end of the period. Pifer's three ball at the horn gave WHS it's two-point advantage.
The Pioneers led 29-26 at the break, and following a ten-point run by the Rams to start the second half that gave them a seven-point lead at 36-29, WHS got within one at 39-38 to close out the third period. The game ended in a 51-51 tie at the end of regulation time, setting the stage for Tuesday's dramatic finish.
Pifer led WHS with 21 points; Proffitt finished with ten. Waggoner led all scorers with 24 points. The Pioneers play South Stokes tonight at 7 p.m.
WHS 61, STARMOUNT 59
1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH OT TOTAL
WATAUGA 17 12 11 13 10 - 61
STARMOUNT 15 11 13 12 8 - 59
WHS: PIFER 21, POULOS 5, PROFFITT 10, MARGOLIS 3, HOWSER 10, CHASTEEN 6, MACKEY 6.
STARMOUNT: BILLUPS 4, McDANIEL 10, DOBSON 9, WILLIAMS 2, BRAY 8, SOMERS 2, WAGGONER 24.
WHS WOMEN LOSE FIFTH STRAIGHT
The woes continued for the Watauga High women's basketball team.
The Pioneers (2-8) lost their fifth consecutive game as they dropped a 46-34 decision to West Stokes (3-4) Tuesday afternoon in the opening-round of the Alleghany Christmas Tournament in Sparta, NC. WHS never led in the game, and trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half.
"I am real disappointed with our performance tonight," said WHS coach Klay Anderson. "We played with so much intensity the other night (Decenmber 22) against Wilkes Central. But we never got it going tonight."
WHS trailed 22-10 at the intermission. But a ten-point surge to start the second half cut the lead to two early in the third quarter. Kaelin McNeill backboned the run with five points. But following a full time out, the Wildcats regrouped and settled the issue. They went on a 19-3 run and built a commanding 18-point lead at 41-23 early in the fourth quarter. A pair of three pointers by Abby Harris backboned the run by West Stokes, which defeated WHS for the first time in four tries.
"Take nothing away from West Stokes," Anderson said. "They played an outstanding game. But the Pioneers beat themselves. We made way too many turnovers, we took some shots that fell about four feet short of the basket. We were still on vacation. And to score ten points in the first half, especially in a varsity basketball game in not acceptable."
Savanna Wood led the Pioneers with 15 points, 13 of those coming in the second half. Hannah Margolis, who got into early foul trouble, finished with seven. Brianna Bratcher led a balanced scoring attack for the Wilcats with 11 points. Makala Bozman finished with nine points; Chris Madigan had seven.
The WHS men and women play South Stokes on the final day of the Christmas tournament tonight. The men play at 7 p.m.; the women play at 8:30 p.m. Our coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on Oldies 100.7 FM.
WEST STOKES 46, WHS 34
1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
WATAUGA 4 6 13 11 - 34
WEST STOKES 10 12 14 10 - 46
WHS: WOOD 15, DUNNIGAN 2, WALLACE 4, MARGOLIS 7, MAKAROVA 1, McNEILL 5.
WEST STOKES: McKINNEY 1, FRANCOIS 5, HARRIS 6, PALMER 2, BOZMAN 9, BRATCHER 11, MADIGAN 8, GORDON 4.
WEST STOKES 46, WATAUGA 34
AT CATAWBA VALLEY HOLIDAY CLASSIC (HICKORY)
SOUTH CALDWELL 61, MAIDEN 28
HICKORY 80, BUNKER HILL 20
NEWTON-CONOVER 66, FRED T. FOARD 34
ALEXANDER CENTRAL 50. ST. STEPHENS 32
WATAUGA 61, STARMOUNT 59 (OT)
AT CATAWBA VALLEY HOLIDAY CLASSICA (HICKORY)
SOUTH CALDWELL 51, FRED T. FOARD 46
ALEXANDER CENTRAL 58, MAIDEN 44
HICKORY 63, BUNKER HILL 39
ST. STEPHENS 54, NEWTON-CONOVER 44