Ashe girls' basketball team holds off East Wilkes
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
RHONDA -- Ashe County girls' basketball coach Laura Foster had a feeling her team's 17-point third-quarter lead over host East Wilkes would not last the entire game.
Foster wanted her Huskies to survive East Wilkes' eventual comeback attempt, and then hold on for a win. Ashe County followed that blueprint and claimed a 60-55 victory over the Cardinals in front of a good crowd at East Wilkes High School's gym.
"It was a huge, huge, huge conference win for us," Ashe coach Laura Foster said. "None of the conference wins counts more than the other, but East Wilkes has done some good stuff. They're playing really well this year. They beat Wilkes Central at Wilkes Central. This is a good team win for us.
"This is a hard place to play. I've had some really good teams that have struggled here, so I'm just proud of our kids."
The Huskies (7-7, 2-2 Mountain Valley Conference) turned a 16-3 lead into a 25-15 halftime advantage.
Ashe increased its lead to 37-20 with a 9-5 run capped by two Morgan Hudler baskets. Hudler eventually finished with 13 points, 11 of them in the third quarter.
East Wilkes (7-7, 3-2) eventually pulled in front 46-45 with back-to-back baskets by Jada McCrimmon with 5:53 left in the game. East Wilkes used full-court pressure to force Ashe into turnovers and into some bad shot selection.
Foster said she countered by putting in more guards to handle the pressure better.
"I felt like we had too many bigs in, so we went with a little smaller lineup," Foster said. "I think that might have helped us. We sort of lost our composure. We knew they were going to make a run. We had to withstand it."
After East Wilkes took a 53-52 lead, Ashe closed out the game by making 8-of-10 foul shots, including four by Hudler and three by Tyler Eller.
"We had our best free throw shooters on the line tonight -- Eller and Morgan," Foster said. "(Eller) is a very good free throw shooter and Morgan is a very good free throw shooter. We had the right people on the line whether they knew that or not."
Eller finished with nine points, six of them coming off two 3-point baskets. Paige Spell led the Huskies in scoring with 16 points.
Ashton Lee made two 3-point baskets and finished with six points. Savannah Brooks added six points for the Huskies.
McKenzie Stokes led the Cardinals in scoring with 15 points. McCrimmon scored 14 points and ShaNisha White added 13 points.
Ashe plays at Starmount in a makeup game from Jan. 3. Starmount is 0-10 overall, 0-2 going into its games Friday against West Wilkes.
Offense has been a problem for Starmount, which averages just 26.4 points per game. The Rams' highest points total was in a 74-48 loss to East Surry on Dec. 27.
Starmount's lowest was a 57-12 loss to Forbush on Jan. 8.
The Rams don't have a player averaging at least 6.0 points per game. Darion Dobson, a sophomore, leads the team in scoring with 5.9 points per game.
On Jan. 8, North Wilkes beat Ashe 56-43 at Ashe High School. North Wilkes improved to 8-4 overall, 3-0 in the MVC going into Friday against Elkin.
"I was proud of how we played against North Wilkes," Foster said. "Their best player is hurt, but they are really solid. We lost, but I was so proud of my kids and how hard they played. It was a back-and-forth game and we ended up losing by 13."
Ashe County girls 60, East Wilkes 55
Ashe County 60 (7-7, 2-2)
Grubb 0 1-2 1, Eller 2 3-6 9, Hudler 3 7-12 13, Spell 6 3-4 16, Lee 2 0-0 6, Lopp 1 2-2 4, Brown 2 0-0 5, Brooks 3 0-2 6, Sullivan 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 16-28 60.
East Wilkes 55 (7-7, 3-3)
Bullard 1 00 2, Stokes 4 5-8 15, White 4 3-8 13, Edwards 2 3-3 7, Lester 2 0-0 4, McCrimmon 6 0-0 14, Hayes 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 11-19 55.
Ashe County 9 16 16 19 -- 60
East Wilkes 11 11 21 19 -- 55
3-point goals--Ashe County 6 (Eller 2, Lee 2, Spell, Brown), East Wilkes 6 (Stokes 2, White 2, McCrimmon 2). Total fouls--Ashe County 11, East Wilkes 20. Fouled out--Wilkes Central, Lester. Technical fouls--None.