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Originally published: 2014-01-25 16:05:49
Last modified: 2014-01-25 16:06:35

St. Stephens girls' basketball team clips Watauga

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

HICKORY -- Watauga's girls' basketball team's 53-51 loss to St. Stephens in Northwestern Conference action on Friday had a little bit of everything in it.
First of all, St. Stephens broke a nine-game losing streak to the Pioneers, which included a loss at Lentz-Eggers Gym earlier in the season. Watauga (5-13, 3-5 NWC) lost its second straight game heading into its game Tuesday at home against Fred T. Foard.
The game Friday also had 11 ties, and the 51 points are tied for the third most Watauga has scored all season.
It also had a controversial play late in the fourth quarter that forced one of those ties. Watauga had just cranked out a 7-0 run to take a 49-47 lead with 1:13 left in the game. St. Stephens had called timeout and the time was over when Watauga was late coming out of its huddle.
St. Stephens was already on the court when the officials put the ball in play while Watauga was just breaking out of its huddle. The Indians, who wasn't facing any Watauga defense, got an uncontested layup from Kayona Hicks with 1:02 left.
Watauga coach Klay Anderson said he did not get a notification that a first warning horn had sounded, which is given by the official.
On two timeouts following the play, assistant coach Chris Callahan made sure he was notified of the first horn, so he could relay the message to Anderson.
"The referees are here to do one job, and that is to referee the game within the rules, and on timeouts they are supposed to come into the huddle and say, 'First horn,' whether they've blown the horn or not," Anderson said. "No official came into our huddle, (but) I take full responsibility."
Watauga regrouped and got two foul shots from Savanna Wood, who made her shots with 39.6 seconds to go. St. Stephens answered with two foul shots from Hicks foul shots nine seconds later to tie the game 51-51.
"The referees were kind of like that all night where they kept saying get out and get your team out there," St. Stephens coach Betsy Reynolds said. "I think they were that way with both of us. I guess I really wasn't surprised when they allowed the throw-in on that. Things like that don't usually happen."
Watauga had a final chance to take the lead, but St. Stephens guard Autumn Williams stole the inbounds pass, was fouled, and calmly sank two foul shots to give the Indians a 53-51 lead with 2.0 seconds left.
"It was a great play by St. Stephens," Anderson said. "They made plays at the end. You can't turn it over as much as we did in the last couple of minutes. We battled back with a 7-0 run to get it to 49-47, but we could not close the deal. They did a better job than we did."
Watauga could not get the ball past half court before it was stolen again.
The loss was a bitter pill for the Pioneers to take, especially since it was a game they could have won.
"We had a lot of good energy," Anderson said. "I was proud of what we did. We battled and St. Stephens is no pushover."
Wood, who played just the first half Wednesday in a loss to South Caldwell, scored 13 points to lead the Pioneers Friday. Ryan Loflin added 12 and Kaelin McNeill scored six of her 10 points in the fourth quarter.
McNeill also grabbed five of her eight rebounds in the fourth quarter despite her and  Tori Derrick sitting on the bench during the third quarter because both had three fouls. They were replaced mostly by freshmen Athena Millsaps, Katherine Stapleton and sophomore Sydney Jones.
Millsaps finished with four points and Jones had two.
"We got some great contributions from players who haven't been playing a lot of minutes," Anderson said. "We got key baskets, and they didn't have to score a ton of points. The bottom line is even with those contributions, we were not able to close the deal."
St. Stephens got 15 points from Kylea Cooper and 13 points from Hicks. Williams scored eight.
Reynolds lamented the fact that St. Stephens made 9-of-18 foul shots in the first half. and 1-for-6 in the first quarter.
"We missed a lot of free throws in the first half," Reynolds said. "For the game to come to free throws at the end was kind of ironic."

St. Stephens girls 53, Watauga 51
Watauga 51 (5-13, 3-5)
Millsaps 2 0-0 4, Wood 3 4-6 13, Derrick 2 9-0 5, Carroll 0 1-2 1, Loflin 4 4-5 12, Farthing 1 0-0 2, McNeill 5 0-1 10, Jones 1 0-0 2, Foutz 1 0-0 3, Stapleton 0 0-0 0, Brown 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 9-15 51.
St. Stephens 53 (9-9, 4-5)
Kerley 1 1-2 4, Killian 2 1-1 6, Williams 2 3-4 8, Cooper 5 5-6 15, Hicks 4 5-6 13, Jones 1 1-2 3, McMahan 2 0-0 4, Blalock 0 0-0 0, Bumgarner 0 0-0 0, Meard 0 0-0 0, Brown 0 0-0 0, Lay 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 17-27 53.
Watauga    9 12 19 11 -- 51
St. Stephens    6 14 23 10 -- 53
3-point goals--Watauga 4 (Wood 2, Derrick, Foutz), St. Stephens 3 (Kerley, Killian, Williams). Rebounds--Watauga 32 (McNeill 8), St. Stephens 29 (McMahan 9). Turnovers--Watauga 26, St. Stephens 21. Total fouls--Watauga 19, St. Stephens 14. Fouled out--None. Technical fouls--None.

                                       Conf        All
    W    L    W    L
Hickory    7    0    14    0
Freedom    7    1    12    5
South Caldwell    5    2    12    5
Patton    3    4    7    9
St. Stephens    4    5    9    9
Watauga    3    5    5    13
Fred T. Foard    0    7    1    13
Hibriten    0    7    1    11

Friday's games
St. Stephens 53, Watauga 51
Freedom 61, Fred T. Foard 22
South Caldwell 55, Hibriten 23
Patton at Hickory, late

Tuesday's games
Fred T. Foard at Watauga
Hickory at Freedom
St. Stephens at Hibriten
South Caldwell at Patton