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Originally published: 2013-12-14 16:21:46
Last modified: 2013-12-14 16:22:32

Pioneers race past Huskies

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

WEST JEFFERSON -- When Watauga's boys' basketball team's offense found its rhythm, there was little Ashe County could do to stop the Pioneers.
Watauga scored 30 points in the second quarter in its 82-50 victory over host Ashe Friday at Ashe's gym. Watauga completed its season sweep of the Huskies by overwhelming Ashe with layups and a rare six-point possession that broke the game open.
Watauga (6-1) opened a 26-15 lead when Cam Baker took a pass from Aaron Dobbins, whose steal started a fast break. Baker went to dunk the basketball and was fouled, while making the dunk.
An intentional foul was called, which gave Baker two foul shots. He made them both, which completed the four-point play and gave the Pioneers a 30-15 lead.
Watauga was awarded possession of the ball because of the intentional foul, which the Pioneers converted into a Baker layup. That gave Watauga a 32-15 lead that Ashe could not recover.
"That play is the first time I've actually seen it called," Pioneers coach Rob Sanders said. "You have a dunk and a grab from behind, which by rule is supposed to be an intentional foul. They called it correctly. That's a huge, huge play. That swung the momentum our way."
The six-point possession was the cornerstone of a 20-2 run, capped by a Matt Lambert layup, gave Watauga a 41-17 lead with 3:12 left in the first half. The Pioneers finished with a 49-23 halftime lead.
"That intentional foul was big," Ashe coach Scott Grubb said. "We kind of let our emotions get away from us a little bit."
Watauga continually scored on layups, which allowed the Pioneers to make 13-of-18 (72 percent) from the field in the second quarter. Watauga continued to attack the basket in the third quarter by making 11-of-14 from the field (78 percent) from the field.
Watauga ended up shooting 61 percent from the field (34-of-56) in the game.
Ashe kept up with the Pioneers in the first quarter when a 3-point basket from Devan Sheets and a foul shot from Cullen Ashley tied the game 8-8. Watauga broke away for a first time with an 11-5 run to take a 19-13 lead.
"We knew Ashe was going to play hard on their home court," Sanders said. "We knew we were going to have to sustain a punch in the mouth. They came out playing extremely hard."
Watauga guard Jay Harrill scored 23 points to lead the Pioneers in scoring after pouring in 25 points in a 61-43 victory over Alexander Central.
Harrill, who made four of Watauga's five 3-point baskets, also pulled down 10 rebounds He had 18 points by halftime.
"This kid is heating up at the right time," Sanders said. "Hopefully he can continue to do it all year. He's always been that type of shooter. He believes that the ball is going in the basket every time it leaves his hand and we've preached that to him. That's the way good shooters are."
Baker added 12 points -- 10 by halftime -- and dished out seven assists. Lambert also scored 12 points and Utah Jones scored 11 points.
Even with the big win, Sanders saw room for improvement.
"I was a little disappointed going into halftime," Sanders said. "I was looking for some things. I wanted us to get 30 rebounds. I thought we had a size advantage and we need to focus in on keeping them off the offensive glass. We didn't do a good job of that."
Ashe County got 16 points from Alex Spencer and eight from Sheets. Ashe made 3-point shots.
"I was really pleased with the first quarter," Grubb said. "We executed our game plan well. We were much tougher with the half-court trap, the scrambling and the run-and-jump stuff. I don't recall any turnovers in the scramble."
Watauga begins Northwestern Conference play Tuesday with a home game against St. Stephens. The Indians beat Bunker Hill 65-60 after Marcus Conner scored 23 points.
Ashe County hosts Mount Airy on Monday and plays at Avery on Tuesday.


Watauga boys 82, Ashe county 50
Watauga 82 (6-1)
Harrill 9 1-1 23, Eggers 1 0-0 2, Gailes 3 0-0 6, Andrews 0 2-2 2, Poulos 2 0-0 4, Dobbins 2 0-0 4, Jones 4 2-2 11, Ebaugh 2 2-3 6, Baker 5 2-2 12, Lambert 6 0-1 12, Richardson 0 0-1 0. Totals 34 9-12 82.
Ashe 50 (1-6)
Bowers 1 2-2 4, Spencer 6 0-0 16, Sheets 3 0-0 8, McNeill 2 0-2 5, Woodie 0 2-2 2, Owen 0 4-4 4, Shelton 2 0-0 4, Ashley 3 1-2 7, Winebarger 0 0-0 0, Lucas 0 0-0 0, Sexton 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 9-12 50.
Watauga    19 30 23 10 -- 82
Ashe County    13 10 18   9 -- 50
3-point goals--Watauga 5 (Harrill 4, Jones), Ashe 7 (Spencer 4, Sheets, McNeill). Rebounds--Watauga 29 (Harrill 10), Ashe 23 (Spencer 4). Turnovers--Watauga 8, Ashe 13. Total fouls--Watauga 11, Ashe County 16. Fouled out--None. Technical fouls--None.