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Originally published: 2014-01-18 20:54:42
Last modified: 2014-01-18 20:55:28

Hickory pulls away from Watauga girls

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

For years, Hickory's girls' basketball team has been the class of whatever conference they've been in.
That includes the Northwestern Conference, which Hickory has dominated. Hickory added another NWC win to its resume with a 65-41 victory over Watauga Friday night at Lentz-Eggers Gym.
Watauga (5-10, 3-2 NWC) stayed within striking distance of Hickory (13-0, 6-0) for the first three quarters. The Red Tornadoes led 32-24 by halftime and 46-38 by the end of the third quarter.
Then Watauga nearly stopped scoring. Hickory outscored the Pioneers 19-3 in the fourth quarter to pull away for a convincing win. The Pioneers made only 1-of-7 attempts from the field and turned the ball over six times in the fourth.
"We also stopped shooting," Pioneers coach Klay Anderson said. "I was pleading with them during the timeouts for any of my girls -- shoot if you're open. We have five girls on the court who can shoot it, especially the midrange jumper area. I was pleading that they catch and shoot. Don't wait and don't let the traps come."
The Red Tornadoes made sure they accounted for Savanna Wood everywhere the Watauga senior was on the court. Wood managed to make two 3-point baskets, but settled for eight points. That was well below her season average of 14.5 points per game.
"We knew she was their main offensive threat," Hickory coach Barbara Helms said. "She's a very good player and a very good scorer. Before game time we were going to call her name out. We wanted to be very vocal about it because we wanted everyone to know where she was."
Kaelin McNeill benefitted the most from the attention paid to Wood. The senior center scored 13 points, but scored all of them in the first half.
That's because in the second half, Hickory sagged its defense inside, and with the exception of Wood, dared the Pioneers to shoot from the outside.
Anderson said it was a good strategic move by Helms to focus on Wood, especially since Watauga's other top 3-point shooter, Clare Harris, is out with an injury.
"I thought Barbara made a great adjustment in pulling her defense back and packing it in and letting her focus be on Savanna at the top," Anderson said. "They were not going to let her get away very much and with Clare on the bench. They were screaming No. 2, No. 2, No. 2 every time Savanna touched the ball. They were going to force somebody else to beat us. Unfortunately, we came up a little short."
Ryan Loflin added 11 points, while Brooklin Carroll scored five points for the Pioneers.
Hickory had four players score in double figures, led by Danasia Witherspoon's 15 points. Brittany Dixon also scored 15 points.
Yasman Hannah added 13 points and Sadasia Tipps scored 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Red Tornadoes.
Watauga plays at South Caldwell on Tuesday. South Caldwell pounded Fred T. Foard 70-36 on Friday.
In other NWC scores, Patton beat Hibriten 72-30 and Freedom beat St. Stephens 59-39.

Hickory girls 65, Watauga 41
Hickory 65 (13-0, 6-0)
Eckerd 1 0-0 3, Witherspoon 6 2-6 15, Hannah 6 1-3 13, Dixon 6 0-0 15, Tipps 5 1-1 11, Cameron 2 0-0 4, Miller 2 0-0 4, Ames 0 0-0 0, McClain 0 0-0 0, Setzer 0 0-0 0, Mervin 0 0-0 0, Hilton 0 0-0 0. Totals 28 4-11 65.
Watauga 41 (5-10, 3-2)
Wood 3 0-0 8, Derrick 1 0-0 2, Carroll 2 1-2 5, Loflin 4 3-6 11, Farthing 0 2-2 2, McNeill 6 1-2 13, Foutz 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 7-12 41.
Hickory    17 15 14 19 -- 65
Watauga    12 11 14 3 -- 41
3-point goals--Hickory 5 (Dixon, Eckerd, Witherspoon), Watauga 2 (Wood 2). Rebounds--Hickory 37 (Tipps 11), Watauga 24 (McNeill 7). Turnovers--Hickory 14, Watauga 18. Total fouls--Hickory 11, Watauga 11. Fouled out--None. Technical fouls--None.