Danielle Welsh stepped up her game at the right time.
In turn, the Watauga High women's basketball team (6-15 overall; 4-7 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference) snapped its four-game losing streak by knocking off Hibriten 50-38 down in Lenior, N.C., Tuesday night. Welsh,
who did not play her sophomore year, poured in a career-high 15 points and she pulled down six rebounds in the win. And she fueled a nine-point run to close out the first half as the Pioneers wiped out an eight-point deficit.
"I am so proud of the way the girls battled back, especially being down eight points," said WHS coach Klay Anderson. "I love this group. They are so resilient. There's no quit. It was a good way for us to break our losing streak."
Welsh had six points in the run as the Pioneers, who trailed 20-12 , came charging back to take a 21-20 lead at halftime.
"Danielle played lacrosse last spring," Anderson said. "Taking that year off has been tough on her. But she's slowly rounding into shape. It's a shame we're getting late in the season, because her skill level is getting to the point where it needs to be. She had a goal to crack the starting lineup this season, and she accomplished that goal in a big way tonight."
Welsh got the starting nod and led a balanced attack. Savanna Wood chipped in with 12 points, thanks to four three pointers---three of those coming in the second half. Hannah Margolis finished with seven ponts, but she also had 14 rebounds and six assists.
"This was a big win for us with the conference tournament coming up next week," Anderson said. "We want to finish on a strong note. I'm not ready for the season to end just yet. I love coaching this team, and I feel we still have some games left to play."
The Pioneers finally broke away in the fourth quarter. They errupted for 22 points in the final stanza. A 12-2 run wiped out a 32-30 Hibriten (5-15; 2-9) lead. Welsh converted a conventional three-point play; Jenna Woods buried a three, and the Pioneers built their biggest lead at 42-32 with a little more than three minutes to play.
Kiesha Corpening led the Panthers with 19 points. Courtney Morton finished with eight points. Only four players scored for the Panthers.
"We did a great job weathering the storm in the second quarter," Anderson said. "They hit some big shots from the outside, especially the Morton girl. She buried a couple of threes, and that was my fault. I went into a zone. But we picked it up defensively, pressured the ball and put that run together. It's a huge win for the girls."
The Pioneers return home to play Wilkes Central in a make-up game that was snowed out back on January 3. The Eagles (21-1) have beaten WHS three consecutive times dating back to last season. But Anderson feels his team might be primed to pull off the upset.
"This could be a trap game for (Wilkes Central)," he said. "They probably feel we can't stick with them, and if they come up here, and their light is dim, and we play our "A" game, it could be a long night for them."
The Eagles beat WHS 55-45 in the first meeting back on Decmeber 22 down in Moravian Falls.
WHS 50, HIBRITEN 38
SCORE BY PERIODS 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
WATAUGA........... 10 11 7 22 50
HIBRITEN.......... 9 11 8 10 38
WHS: WOODS 6, WOOD 12, DUNNIGAN 2 (4 REBOUNDS), WALLACE 6, WILSON 2, MARGOLIS 7 (14 REBOUNDS, SIX ASSISTS), WELSH 15 (6 REBOUNDS).
HIBRITEN: SOLDATI 9, LOGAN 2, CORPENING 19, MORTON 8.
PIONEERS TAME PANTHERS, 65-58
The Watauga High men's basketball team snapped its three-game slide and pulled into a third-place tie thanks to its blue-collar effort Tuesday night.
The Pioneers, who exploded for 23 points in the third quarter, wiped out a two-point halftime deficit and defeated Hibriten 65-58 in Lenior, N.C. The win, coupled with Hickory beating St. Stephens 73-58, pulls WHS (9-12 overall; 5-6 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference) into a third-place tie with the Indians in the NW3A/4A Conference standings. And the Indians, who have lost four of their last five games, come to town Friday night to play the Pioneers on Senior Night.
Trailing 27-25 at the break, thanks to a three pointer by Michael Burgess at the horn, the Pioneers came charging out of the gate in the third quarter. They went on a 17-2 run and grabbed a 42-31 lead.
"Heck, I wasn't concerned about winning the third quarter, I was concerned about winning the fricking game," said WHS coach Rob Sanders. "We gave them a good look at the end of the second quarter and Burgess hit a huge shot to put them on top. But we found him in the second half and never allowed him to get comfortable."
Burgess led the Panthers with 19 points. Jake Pifer led a balanced scoring attack for the Pioneers as the senior poured in a game-high 20 points with five rebounds; Ben Howser, coming off a disappointing effort last Friday night at South Caldwell, had ten points and eight boards; Matt Proffitt had seven points points, five rebounds and three steals.
"Ben played a terrific game tonight," Sanders said. "He scored ten points, and every one of those points came at a key time, when we needed someone to score. He's really beaten himself up recently about the way he's been playing. He really came through with a strong game tonight."
The Panthers (9-11; 2-9), who have lost four in a row and ten of their last 12 games, rallied and got within two points on two occasions in the fourth quarter, the last time at 59-57 on a bucket by Jose Muniz with a minute to play. But WHS finally put the game out of reach on a three-point play by Pifer that gave WHS a 62-57 lead with 33 seconds left. Allan Koppenhaver (six points and five rebounds) found Pifer underneath and he was fouled by Mansa Hunt on the shot.
"I am so proud of this team," Sanders said. "It hasn't been an easy season, but they really worked hard to win this game tonight. That gives us nine wins on the year. Now, our goal is reach double-digit wins, and to build some momentum for the conference tournament next week. We still have two games left to play against two quality opponents in Wllkes Central (tonight) and St. Stephens (on Friday). We're in a situation now that we don't want to take a step backwards with a loss. We want to win (tonight) and go forward full stride Friday night."
The WHS men and women return home to play Wilkes Central tonight. The Eagles (18-3) defeated North Willkes 60-42 last night. They defeated WHS 77-70 in Moravian Falls on December 22, but the Eagles haven't won in Boone since the 1999-00 season. Tonights' game was rescheduled after it was snowed out back on January 3. Our coverage begins at 6 p.m. tonight on Oldies 100.7 FM.
WHS 65, HIBRITEN 58
SCORE BY PERIODS 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
WATAUGA........... 11 14 23 17 65
HIBRITEN.......... 7 20 11 20 58
WHS: PIFER 20 (5 REBOUNDS), POULOS 4 (3 STEALS, 3 ASSISTS), PROFFITT 7 (5 REBOUNDS, 3 STEALS), MARGOLIS 5 (3 ASSISTS), HOWSER 10 (8 REBOUNDS), CHASTEEN 7 (5 REBOUNDS), KOPPENHAVER 6 (5 REBOUNDS), STURGILL 6.
HIBRITEN: RUTHERFORD 8, HUNT 7, MUNIZ 2, CHISHOLM 2, BURGESS 19, FELDER 11, BENFIELD 9.
WATUAGA 50, HIBRITEN 38
HICKORY 76, ST. STEPHENS 34
SOUTH CALDWELL 70, ALEXANDER CENTRAL 58
FRED T. FOARD - BYE
WATUAGA 65, HIBRITEN 58
HICKORY 73, ST. STEPHENS 58
ALEXANDER CENTRAL 68, SOUTH CALDWELL 40
FRED T. FOARD - BYE
(MEN & WOMEN)
WILKES CENTRAL @ WATAUGA
JV TEAMS BOTH WIN
The JV boys (21-0) remained undefeated as the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference champions defeated Hibriten 68-27 Tuesday night. Jonathan Plyler pace WHS with 16 points and eight rebounds. Jake Chasteen had 15 points and four steals. Eli Gailes (four steals and five assists), Cameron Baker (six rebounds) and Trevor Eggers (five assists) had eight points apiece.
The JV girls (10-11) defeated Hibriten 44-20 on Tuesday. Clare Harris led the way with 17 points; Courtney Edwards had six points, and Grace Plyler had five.