WHS boys race past Wilkes Central
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Watauga's boys' basketball team's high-octane offense can be difficult for opponents stop.
The Pioneers can strike quickly with both inside and outside attacks. When Watauga is playing swarming defense, the results can turn into easy baskets.
Wilkes Central found out first-hand in a 63-36 Watauga victory at Lentz-Eggers Gym Wednesday. The Pioneers (7-2) jumped out to a 19-6 first quarter lead that was a product of their offense and defense. Watauga used eight first-quarter steals to provide 12 points during the first eight minutes of the game.
Wilkes Central (3-4) committed 10 turnovers in the quarter, and attempted just six shots. The Eagles did not score until Wesley Triplett broke the ice with a basket with 3:49 left in the quarter.
By then, Watauga had taken an 11-0 lead.
"That's what we preached to (our players). They are a very athletic team, they can get to the rim and they can get second-chance opportunities," Pioneers coach Rob Sanders said. "We have to be prepared to play. We wanted to suck the any life out of them and jump out early."
Watauga was playing one day after a draining 60-59 loss to Northwestern Conference St. Stephens Tuesday. The Pioneers got a good look at the basket on a shot that would have won the game, but could not convert and St. Stephens crept out of the gym with a win.
Sanders said that three seniors -- Jay Harrill, Cam Baker and Eli Gailes -- wanted to put a full-court trap on Wilkes Central to create some turnovers and easy baskets.
"They say that with Duke that you never want to be next on the schedule after their loss and that's what we want to be," Sanders said. "After the Avery loss, we came out the next Tuesday and had a great game against Alexander Central. We didn't show up (Tuesday) night with our best effort and lost a close game. They came out tonight and rejuvenated and just resilient."
The trap idea worked. Actually, things could have been much worse for Wilkes Central since the Pioneers made just 7-of-21 shots from the field in the quarter. Combined with the eight Watauga steals, Wilkes Central turned the ball over 10 times in the quarter.
Watauga's defense forced 23 Wilkes Central turnovers overall.
"I'm drained," Sanders said. "These guys have a heck of a lot of character and they've really bounced back. After we got done with our pregame talk, Cam and Jay and Eli pulled me aside and told me they wanted to go 32 made or miss off the bat, which is our scramble defense and I was shocked. After (Tuesday) night, you want to come out and trap all the place and extend all that energy and they told me they wanted to go have fun and that's what we have to do."
None of the Eagles scored in double figures. Michael Howell led Wilkes Central with eight points, while Isaiah Osborne scored seven.
Watauga got 17 points from Jay Harrill and 11 each from Baker and Aaron Dobbins, who led the Pioneers with nine rebounds. Gailes dished out four assists.
Matt Lambert blocked three Wilkes Central shots to go with his four points.
Watauga took a 39-20 halftime lead, which grew to 29 points, 59-30, on a Raheim Andrews steal-and-layup, with 3:26 left in the game.
Watauga can rest for the next seven days until it plays in the Ashe Colvard Oil tournament on Dec. 27-28.
"It would have been devastating to lose two games going into a week-long layoff," Sanders said. "This was a very big win for us."
Watauga boys 63, Wilkes Central 36
Wilkes Central 36 (3-4)
Colburt 2 2-2 6, Osborne 3 1-3 7, Lowe 2 2-2 6, Nunn 2 0-0 5, Vestal 1 0-0 2, Howell 3 2-2 8, Triplett 1 0-0 2, Godwin 0 0-0 0, Bailey 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 7-9 36.
Watauga 63 (7-2)
Harrill 5 7-8 17, Eggers 1 0-0 3, Gailes 2 1-2 5, Andrews 1 0-0 2, Dobbins 5 1-3 11, Jones 2 0-0 5, Ebaugh 2 0-2 4, Baker 4 2-3 11, Lambert 2 0-0 4, Poulos 0 0-0 0, Richardson 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 1118 63.
Wilkes Central 6 14 6 10 -- 36
Watauga 19 19 11 14 -- 63
3-point goals--Wilkes Central 1 (Nunn), Watauga 4 (Eggers, Gailes, Jones, Baker). Rebounds--Wilkes Central 16 (Howell 3), Watauga 32 (Dobbins 9). Turnovers--Wilkes Central 23, Watauga 13. Total fouls--Wilkes Central 15, Watauga 14. Fouled out--None. Technical fouls--None.