And that loss stood out like a sore thumb as WHS coughed up a 13-point run to start the second half as the Spartans (12-5; 5-2) built a commanding 31-13 lead and coasted home from there.
"(Savanna) and (Blake) Gosnell (of the Spartans) collided at the top of the key in the first quarter and hit the floor," said WHS coach Klay Anderson. "Unbeknownst to us, they hit temple to temple. Savanna said she felt a little dizzy, and at halftime, the South Caldwell trainer examined her and he told me, 'Coach, she talking like she has the conditions (of a concussion), and I asked him, 'What would you say to (Spartans coach) Jeff Parham, if it was his girl?' And he said, 'I would recommend to sit her out.' I'm not going against a medical professional's opinion. We played it cautious from there, and we will have her re-evaluated (Thursday)."
Wood, who battled an ankle injury in December, finished with a season-low one point. Ryan Loflin carried WHS early on with nine points, but she was held scoreless in the second half.
"And our goal coming in was to slow down Wood and Loflin," Parham said. "We did a poor job guarding Loflin in the first half. She got a lot of dribble penetration against us in the lane, but we buckled down on her in the last two quarters. I really challenged our girls at halftime. Both team were a little sluggish offensively tonight. But we stepped it up in the second half, we made smarter passes, and we played better."
The win gives South Caldwell sole possession of third place in the NW3A/4A Conference, and more importantly, the No.1 seed among the Class 4A schools in the conference. The win also avenged a home loss against the Pioneers last season (it was also South's first win against WHS since the 2011-12 season). The Pioneers have lost three straight.
WHS led early and own an 8-5 lead in the second quarter before the Spartans caught fire and took an 18-13 lead at the break. Courtney Wood paced the Spartans Wednesday night with a game-high 15 points. Mikayla Everhart finished with 11 points, ten of those in the second half. The Spartans, who held WHS to four points in the third quarter, led 40-17 in the final stanza.
"Courtney made it difficult on us," Anderson said. "She's long, and she's really improved her game offensively. The majority of her points came on offensive rebounds. We did a poor job keeping her off the boards, and she took advantage of it."
"Courtney is the most improved player on our team," Parham said. "She really stepped up her game this summer. She made herself quicker, especially with her footwork inside. She averaged about eight points a game for us last year. She's averaging nearly 18 a game this season."
Ironically, Anna Lee Bollinger, who went down with a season-ending knee injury midway through last season, was held to four points. Meanwhile, Sydney Farthing, making her first varsity start for the Pioneers, finished with six points; Athenna Millsaps finished with four points.
"We did a great job defensively tonight," Anderson said. "We pressured the ball, and we kept a great player like Anna Lee in check. And we had the game right where we wanted it, in the 30s and 40s. I felt if we could do that, we could win. But we didhn't have our whole package. It's a tough loss."
The loss leaves WHS in a three-way tie for fourth place with Patton (which beat WHS last week) and St. Stephens, who the Pioneers play Friday night.
"And that's a big game," Anderson said. "I hope we can at least get Savanna back. We're going to need her. And hopefully, We'll get Clare (Harris) back next week. It would be nice to finish the regular season with a healthy team."
Harris, whose been on the shelf with a fractured left wrist since late December, will have the cast removed on Monday. Coverage of Friday's game at St. Stephens begins at 6:05 p.m., on AM 1450, WATA and GoBlueridge.net. The Pioneers have beaten St. Stephens nine consecutive times.
SOUTH CALDWELL 44, WATAUGA 26
SCORE BY PERIODS 1 2 3 4 TOTAL
WATAUGA HIGH 7 6 4 9 - 26
SOUTH CALDWELL 5 13 13 13 - 44
WHS: MILLSAPS 4, WOOD 1, LOFLIN 9, FARTHING 6, FOUTZ 6. FG: 8, 3FG: 2, FT: 4-6.
SCHS: ANNAS 2, GOSNELL 5, BOLLINGER 4, RABY 4, WOOD 15, PARHAM 3, EVERHART 11. FG: 13, 3FG: 3, FG: 9-13.
WATAUGA BOYS 71, SOUTH CALDWELL 47
The Watuaga High boy's basketball team picked up a huge win Wednesday night. The Pioneers (12-5 overall; 3-4 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference) blasted South Caldwell 71-47 in Sawmills, N.C.
The win moves WHS into a two-way tie for fifth place with St. Stephens, who they play Friday night. And the win also gives WHS the No.1 seed among the Class 4A schools in the NW3A/4A Confernce. The Spartans (1-15; 0-7), who lost five starters to graduation, lost their eighth consecutive game.
"We had a great start," said WHS coach Rob Sanders. "We came out and put pressure on the ball, and we shot the ball extremely well. It's what we were looking for against a team that's struggling right now. But we went into a lull in the second quarter, we allowed them to get back in the game."
WHS, which led all the way, saw its 14-point, first-quarter lead cut to six at 24-18 early in the second on a bucket by Josh Brackett of the Spartans. But WHS regrouped and built its lead back to double digits at 37-25 on a steal and a bucket by Utah Jones with 12 seconds left in the first half. The Pioneers also survived another scare as senior Cameron Baker went down with an ankle injury.
"Cam is one of the toughest guys on this team," Sanders said. "He rolled his ankle, and he told me he heard something pop. But I think it scared him more than anything. He spent a short time on the bench, and before I knew it, he tapped me on the shoulder and said he was ready to go back in. But South came at us with full court pressure and we stopped attacking in that second quarter. It's the same thing we did (Friday night) against Hickory. We told them during the time out (when Baker went down) to attack their pressure like we attacked their half-court defense. And once we got back to that, we built our lead back up."
"Their pressure was forcing us to make one pass and shoot," senior Jay Harrill said. "We had to regroup as a team. We just went back to what we did to start the game with our inside-out game. And we started making our shots."
Harrill benefited the most as he buried three trifectas in the third quarter to break the contest open. Harrill scored 11 points in the period, igniting a 20-4 blitz as the Pioneers took a commanding 57-31 lead.
His three ball with 4:18 left gave WHS a 43-27 lead, and his trey with 2:32 to go made it 49-29. The Pioneers eventually led by as many as 33 points in the fourth quarter.
"And when Jay tells you he's feeling it, he's in a zone," Sanders said. "He really gave us a huge lift in a game we really needed to win. Now, we can focus on St. Stephens Friday night."
Harrill finished with 21 points and ten rebounds; Baker finished with 18 points and six boards; Jones poured in 15. Trent Wakefield led the Sopartans with 16 points; Trevor Soles had ten, all of those in the first half.
"This is a huge win heading into Friday's game," Sanders said. "We should have beaten (St. Stephens) the first time we played them. But beating them on their floor won't be easy. Catching Freedom (who's in first place) might be out of reach, but we want to climb our way up the standings. And winning this game is huge for playoff seeding. We own that number one seed right now."
"It's tough playing (St. Stephens) down there," Harrill said. "They beat us pretty bad down there last year. Plus, it was their senior night. We just have to do what we did tonight. Work for the good shot, play strong on defense and rebound. We should have beaten them the last time we played them. It would be nice to steal on the road against them."
The Pioneers have lost seven straight against the Indians. WHS hasn't won at St. Stephens since 2009-10. The Indians squeaked out a 60-59 win at Lentz-Eggers Gym on December 17, handing WHS its first loss of the year. Coverage begins at 6:05 p.m. Friday night on AM 1450, WATA and GoBlueridge.net.
WATAUGA 71, SOUTH CALDWELL 47
SCORE BY PERIODS 1 2 3 4 TOTAL
WATAUA HIGH 22 15 20 14 - 71
SOUTH CALDWELL 12 15 4 16 - 47
WHS: HARRILL 21 (10 REBOUNDS, 3 STEALS, 3 BLOCKED SHOTS), EGGERS 5, GAILES 4 (9 ASSISTS), DOBBINS 4, JONES 15 (3 ASSISTS, 3 STEALS), BAKER 18 (6 REBOUNDS), LAMBERT 4 (7 REBOUNDS). FG: 19, 3FG: 7, FT: 12-23.
SCHS: GREENE 5, C.WEAVER 2, WINGATE 2, COX 1, WOHALA 3, RABY 3, WAKEFIELD 16, BRACKETT 2, SOLES 10, HUGHES 3. FG: 15, 3FG: 3, FT: 8-12.
NORTHWESTERN 3A/4A CONFERENCE STANDINGS
Hickory 7-0 14-0
Freedom 6-1 11-5
S. Caldwell 5-2 12-5
Watauga 3-4 5-12
Patton 3-4; 7-9
St. Stephens 3-4 8-9
Fred T. Foard 1-6 2-13
Hibriten 0-7 1-13
Freedom 7-0 16-0
Hickory 5-2 6-8
Patton 4-3; 10-6
Fred T. Foard 4-3 9-7
St. Stephens 3-4 11-6
Watauga 3-4 12-5
Hibriten 2-5 6-7
S. Caldwell 0-7 1-15
SOUTH CALDWELL 44, WATAUGA 26
WATAUGA 71, SOUTH CALDWELL 47
(BOYS & GIRLS)
WATAUGA @ ST. STEPHENS
PATTON @ HICKORY
FREEDOM @ FRED T. FOARD
HIBRITEN @ SOUTH CALDWELL