The Watauga High boy's and girl's basketball teams had a pretty easy time of it on Friday in the opening round of the Colvard Oil Holiday Classic in West Jefferson, N.C.
The WHS girls (3-7) won their third straight game and marched their way into Saturday's title game by battering North Foryth 64-41 in the first round. The WHS boys (8-2) advanced by humiliating Forbush 85-39 in their first-round game.
The WHS girls will play Ashe County in the championship game Saturday night at 6 p.m. The Huskies advanced to the finals by knocking off Hibriten 56-32 in their semifinal game. The WHS boys will play Hibriten in the finals at 7:30 p.m. The Panthers (5-1) defeated Ashe County 66-31 in their first-round game. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. Saturday on AM 1450, WATA and GoBlueridge.net.
In the girl's game, the Pioneers, who fell behind 4-0 to start the contest, came charging back and outscored the Vikings 16-2 for a 16-6 first-quarter lead. It was 32-20 at halftime. Tori Derrick paced the Pioneers with 13 first-half points. She finished with a season-high 17 points.
The Pioneers had three players score in double figures. Savanna Wood finished with 16 points; Ryan Loflin had 15 points.
"Tori has a knack for getting to the open spot on the floor," said WHS coach Klay Anderson. "She's always working hard to get open. Tonight, we found her around the baseline area and she connected. You could see her confidence grow with every shot she made. But we gave (North Forsyth) some hope. They hit a few shots and that cut into our huge lead, but our girls took control in the second half and killed off any hopes they might have had for a comeback."
The Pioneers broke the game open with a 19-point blitz in the third quarter for a 51-31 lead. The Vikings (4-7), who have lost five of their last six games, never got any closer than 17 points the rest of the way.
"Our girls never gave up, despite our slow start," Anderson said. "They kept working at it, and look at what we've done. We've built a modest three-game winning streak. Now, we have a chance to win this tournament, and that will give us a lot of momentum going back into (Northwestern 3A/4A) conference play next Friday night (at Fred T. Foard)."
And the Pioneers also have a chance to even the score with an Ashe County (5-6) team that beat them twice this season. One of those losses came in Boone as the Pioneers let an 11-point halftime lead slip away.
"And Savanna (Wood) is really anxious to play them," Anderson said. "She missed those games (with an ankle injury). But we're still going to be shorthanded without Clare (Harris, who was away on a family trip). We're a much better team with four guards on the floor, but we're playing with a lot of confidence right now and that's what matters the most."
Wood also had six rebounds, six assists and seven steals; Kaelin McNeill had six points, six boards and five steals; Brooklin Carroll had a team-high 11 rebounds.
De'La Davis led the Vikings with 16 points, but she only scored four of those in the second half.
The WHS girls are in the finals of the Colvard Oil Classic for the first time since 1999. They defeated Avery in the finals that year at the old Lentz-Eggers Gym.
WATAUGA 64, NORTH FORSYTH 61
SCORE BY PERIODS 1 2 3 4 TOTAL
NORTH FORSYTH 6 14 11 10 - 41
WATAUGA 16 16 19 13 - 64
NFHS: DAVIS 16, HALL 5, ANTHONY 8, ANDRUS 3, HENLEY 3, McCOLLOM 2, LOVELACE 4. FG: 14, 3FG: 2, FT: 7-19.
WHS: WOOD 16 (6 REBOUNDS, 6 ASSISTS, 7 STEALS), DERRICK 17, LOFLIN 15, FARTHING 4, McNEILL 6 (6 REBOUNDS, 5 STEALS), BROWN 3, STAPLETON 1, JONES 2. FG: 26, 3FG: 1, FT: 9-14.
WHS BOYS 85, FORBUSH 39
The story was much the same in the boy's game. The Pioneers, shaking off the rustiness of an eight-day layoff, finally turned on the jets and turned a 4-2 lead into a 15-3 advantage after the opening quarter.
Junior Utah Jones jump-started WHS with nine first-half points. His three ball at the horn to close out the first quarter gave WHS its 12-point lead. That lead ballooned to 22 points at the break. A 10-2 run just before halftime snuffed out any hopes the Falcons (3-7) might had for a rally.
"The game got off to a rough start for both teams," said WHS coach Rob Sanders. "And that's expected with the holidays and the limited practice time. But Utah gave us a huge spark off the bench. He's done it all year for us. He hit some big shots that gave us the big lead and we never let up."
Jones finished with a game-high 20 points. The Pioneers had three players in double figures. Jay Harrill, who got into early foul trouble, finished up with 16 points, 11 of those came in the second half, and Cameron Baker finished with 14 points, six rebounds and five steals.
Matt Lambert, who finished with seven points, had a career-high 16 rebounds, five steals, and four blocked shots.
"And they had their hands full with Matt all night," Sanders said. "He just dominated inside tonight. But he's the kind of guy that can do something like this every night. His looks are deceiving. He doesn't look like an athlete, but believe me, he's very athletic and strong. And consider, he's basically doing it with a bad knee."
WHS led 59-24 after three (the Pioneers outscored Forbush 21-8 in the third period), and the lead eventually grew to 48 points in the fourth quarter. Hunter Chapman came off the bench to lead the Falcons with 11 points.
"It would be nice to win this tournament," Sanders said. "It would be nice to go back into (Northwestern 3A/4A) conference play next (Friday at Fred T. Foard) with a win. We're playing with a lot of confidence right now, and our senior leadership is solid. We aren't prefect by any means. We make our share of mistakes, but I like the make up of this team."
The WHS boys haven't won the Colvard Oil Holiday Classic since 1998, when they defeated Dorman, S.C., at the old Lentz-Eggers Gym.
WATAUGA 85, FORBUSH 39
SCORE BY PERIODS 1 2 3 4 TOTAL
FORBUSH 3 13 8 15 - 39
WATAUGA 15 23 21 26 - 85
FORBUSH: CAIN 4, CHAPMAN 11, BOWMAN 2, GENTRY 5, JOHNSON 5, LEE 1, DOUB 4, DAVIS 7. FG: 15, 3FG: 0, FT: 9-15.
WHS: HARRILL 16 (6 REBOUNDS), EGGERS 9, GAILES 6 (5 ASSISTS), DOBBINS 7 (5 REBOUNDS, 4 BLOCKS), JONES 20, EBAUGH 6, BAKER 14 (6 REBOUNDS, 5 STEALS), LAMBERT 7 (16 REBOUNDS, 5 STEALS, 4 BLOCKS). FG: 29, 3FG: 4, FT: 15-21.
Photo Courtesy: Tori Derrick, WHS Athletics