Avery rallies past Watauga boys
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
NEWLAND -- Avery boys' basketball coach Scott Polsgrove knows that Watauga likes to shoot the 3-point shot.
It was one of the points he emphasized to the Vikings after Watauga made nine of them the first time the teams played on Dec. 3, which the Pioneers won.
In the rematch, Watauga made six of them, just two in the second half and none in the fourth quarter. Avery took advantage of that and scratched out a 57-53 home victory.
"You've got to give Avery credit," Pioneers coach Rob Sanders said. "They did a really good job of getting out on our shooters and making sure that everything was contested. We really didn't have any easy looks and teams are going to make those kinds of adjustments on you."
Avery (4-3) also made six 3-point shots, including two from the 6-foot-6 Chance Watson. He scored 17 points, six of them on three dunks, for the Vikings, who broke a 19-game losing streak to Watauga.
"It's a very intense rivalry and it should be," said Polsgrove, who was unaware of the long losing streak to the Pioneers. "That's what makes these kind of games fun and you want to play in these kinds of games."
Watauga did not help itself by committing 23 turnovers. Avery took care of the basketball a little better, but still finished with 16 turnovers.
"We turned the ball over way, way too much tonight," Sanders said. "If it wasn't a turnover, it seemed like we were giving up two or three shots every possession.
Watson nearly matched Watauga's Cam Baker, who led all scorers with 22 points. Baker also had three dunks, two that went for three-point plays after he was fouled. Baker also made two 3-pointers.
"We wanted to take away the threes the best we could," Polsgrove said. "We didn't do a great job of that in the first half, but it was better in the second. That's a big part of their offense."
Watauga, after blowing a 20-12 second quarter advantage to lead 26-24 at halftime, took a 37-29 lead in the third quarter. Both Baker and Trevor Eggers made 3-pointers during Watauga's 11-5 run.
Avery struck back, with help from back-to-back 3-pointers from Watson and Tre Jackson, tied the game 37-37 with an 8-0. The teams took a 41-41 tie into the fourth quarter where Watauga led 46-45 until Avery went on another 8-0 run to take a 53-46 lead.
Watauga never got closer than three points the rest of the game.
"We showed some resiliency and some toughness tonight that has been a little bit lacking against the better teams that we've played," Polsgrove said. "We've been in games, but it's been a struggle for us to finish well."
Jay Harrill, who made two 3-point shots, added 12 points for the Pioneers. Eggers added seven points.
The Pioneers host Alexander Central today at Lentz-Eggers Gym and play at Ashe on Friday night.
Avery got 15 points from Luke Wotell, while Jackson scored five. The Vikings play at Cloudland, Tenn., another of the Vikings' big rivals, tonight.
Avery boys 57, Watauga 53
Watauga 53 (4-1)
Harrill 4 2-2 12, Eggers 1 4-4 7, Gailes 1 0-0 2, Poulos 0 0-1 0, Jones 2 0-0 5, Baker 7 6-7 22, Lambert 2 1-2 5, Dobbins 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 13-16 53.
Avery 57 (4-3)
Watson 7 1-2 17, Pittman 1 0-0 3, Polsgrove 1 2-2 4, Stewart 2 0-0 4, Jackson 1 2-3 5, Pucket 0 4-4 4, Crowe 1 0-0 3, Phillips 1 1-2 3, Wotell 4 6-6 15, Waldrop 0 0-0 0, Tennant 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 16-19 57.
Watauga 13 13 15 12 -- 53
Avery 8 16 17 16 -- 57
3-point goals--Watauga 6 (Harrill 2, Baker 2, Harrill, Eggers), Avery 6 (Watson 2, Pittman, Jackson, Crowe, Wotell). Rebounds--Watauga 23 (Lambert 8), Avery 22 (Wotell 7). Turnovers--Watauga 23, Avery 16. Total fouls--Watauga 16, Avery 17. Fouled out--None. Technical fouls--None.