Pioneers boys belt Alexander Central
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Watauga's boys' basketball team, having lost to rival Avery on Monday, was looking to return to its winning ways.
Alexander Central was in the Pioneers' way, but not for very long. Watauga got 25 points from Jay Harrill en route to a 61-43 victory over the Cougars.
In past games, Alexander Central's 2-3 matchup zone defense gave Watauga fits. On Tuesday, Watauga's combination of hitting jump shots combined with getting out in transition proved to be the kryptonite for Central's defense.
"To be fair to them, we put in two new sets," Pioneers coach Rob Sanders said. "The only time we really had to work on them was last Thursday before the Ashe game with us playing (Monday) and today. We went through a walkthrough right after school to get back into those sets to refresh their memories and it took a while."
Harrill led the Watauga's offense by making five 3-point shots, and 9-of-16 overall from the field. Harrill scored 12 points against Avery, but felt he should have played better.
"(Monday) night, I felt like I let the team down because I didn't score as many as I usually do," Harrill said. "I only shot the ball about six times and usually I'm shooting it in the teens. I felt like I had to get more shots up as long as I was hitting. I was feeling it in the second half."
Watauga also got 13 points from Utah Jones off the bench. Jones made two 3-pointers and hit 4-of-9 from the field.
Cam Baker added 12 points including two second-half dunks, giving him five in the Pioneers' last two games.
Watauga's win Tuesday gives the Pioneers the season sweep over Alexander Central, a former Northwestern Conference rival. Watauga needed two overtimes to beat the Cougars 61-59 in Taylorsville on Dec. 3.
"The first go-around down there, they really smothered us from the outside and we didn't get quite as many good looks as we were able to get tonight," Sanders said. "Just going into the 1-3-1 look and the 1-4 set we kind of forced their hand to get out and match up on us and we were able to get more open shots."
The Pioneers needed enough scoring to counter Alexander Central center Ty Ireland, who made 8-of-12 baskets and scoring 22 points. Ireland also pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds.
Ireland led the Cougars to a 16-8 first quarter lead, but the Pioneers rallied to trail 24-23 at halftime. It took a 9-0 run to close out the third quarter, which included a Harrill jumper at the buzzer, to give Watauga a 39-30 lead.
Watauga continued its run into the fourth quarter by opening the period with a 9-2 run, giving them a comfortable 48-32 lead. The Pioneers took their largest lead, 61-41 by going on a 11-0 run capped by a Baker dunk and a Harrill 3-point basket.
Watauga took advantage of 19 Alexander Central turnovers and grabbed 12 offensive rebounds.
"They really played well," Alexander Central coach Ed Wills said. "They played really hard and to be honest, they should have been ahead in the first half. They missed a couple of around the basket that helped us out. I thought they completely outplayed us in the first half."
The Pioneers play at border rival Ashe on Friday.
Watauga boys 61, Alexander Central 43
Alexander Central 43 (3-3)
Ireland 8-12 6-7 22, Starnes 2-3 0-0 4, Wall 1-2 0-0 3, Gant 0-2 0-0 0, D. Miller 4-8 0-0 12, R. Miller 0-4 0-0 0, Simmons 0 0-1 0, D. Stikeleather 0-0 0-0 0, Bowman 1-2 0-0 2, Smalls 0-1 0-0 0, M. Stikeleather 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-36 6-7 43.
Baker 5-10 2-4 12, Lambert 2-6 0-0 4, Harrill 9-16 2-3 25, Eggers 0-5 0-0 0, Gailes 1-2 0-0 2, Andres 0-1 0-0 0, Poulos 0-0 0-0 0, Dobbins 2-2 1-1 5, Jones 4-9 3-3 13, Ebaugh 0-0 0-0 0, Richardson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-51 8-12 61.
Alexander Central 16 8 6 13 -- 43
Watauga 8 15 16 22 -- 61
3-point goals--Alexander Central 5-13 (D. Miller 4-7, Wall 1-1, Bowman 0-1,R. Miller 0-3, M. Stikeleather 0-1), Watauga 7-22 (Harrill 5-9, Jones 2-4, Eggers 0-4, Baker 0-3, Gailes 0-1, Andrews 0-1). Rebounds--Alexander Central 25 (Ireland 13), Watauga 23 Baker 6). Assists--Alexander Central 13 (Gant 5), Watauga 9 (Gailes 3). Turnovers--Alexander Central 19, Watauga 8. Total fouls--Alexander Central 15, Watauga 11. Fouled out--None. Technical fouls--None.