Watauga boys' basketball team dumps South Caldwell
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
SAWMILLS -- Watauga's boys' basketball team had a small detour in its way to a 71-47 victory over South Caldwell Wednesday night.
South Caldwell slapped a full-court press on the Pioneers at the start of the second quarter that temporarily slowed Watauga's offense. The Pioneers regrouped at halftime, beat the press and rolled to an important victory over the Spartans.
Watauga (12-5, 3-4 Northwestern Conference) took a step towards claiming the NWC's No. 1, 4-A playoff seed. That's not terribly difficult since there are just two teams in the NWC -- Watauga and South Caldwell. A win over the Spartans on Feb. 14 would give the Pioneers the No. 1 seed.
But a game that started out like a Watauga blowout got stalled in the second quarter. The Pioneers took a 22-12 lead by the end of the first quarter after opening the game with a 7-0 run.
After a Cameron Baker basket started the second quarter and put the Pioneers in front 24-12, South Caldwell applied full-court pressure and slowed Watauga's offensive attack. It didn't help that Baker tweaked his ankle, but played extensively later in the game.
"I rolled it trying to get a rebound or something," Baker said. "Now, it hurts really bad, but I'm a fighter."
South Caldwell (1-14, 0-6) went on a 6-0 run to close to 24-18 with 6:01 left in the half.
"I felt like we lost our composure when they came at us in the second quarter," Pioneers coach Rob Sanders said. "We were back on our heels and stopped being the aggressor. That's what we told them during the time out when Cam got hurt was hey, we've got to get our foot back on the gas pedal."
The Spartans stayed close to the Pioneers by trailing 32-25, but slipped behind 37-25 just before halftime after Utah Jones stole the ball and went the length of the floor for the Pioneers' final basket of the half.
South Caldwell center Trevor Soles scored the final basket of the first half and trailed 37-27 at halftime.
"Coming down court in the second quarter, we'd beat their pressure and then just chuck up a 3-pointer and it wasn't going in for us," Watauga guard Jay Harrill said. "That's what they wanted. We take a quick shot and they get the ball back. When we started working the ball inside and kicking it back out, it took a little more time off the clock and it led to a more open shot."
Sanders said the timeout the Pioneers took to regroup helped them surge back into an eventual 12-point lead and their 10-point halftime advantage.
"The problem was we were dribbling into the teeth of the pressure and then picking the ball up." Sanders said. "All we had to do was get the ball over the time line and then attack and we'd be fine. We were able to do that out of the time out and we were able to stretch it to a double-digit lead."
Watauga slammed the door on any South Caldwell comeback by outscoring the Spartans 20-4 in the third quarter. Baker closed out the quarter by capping an 8-0 run with a thunderous dunk off an offensive rebound, which gave the Pioneers a 57-31 lead.
Who should really get the credit for that basket was a matter of friendly debate between Baker and Jay Harrill, who took the shot in the first place.
"It was goal-tending," Baker admitted. "It was goal-tending that they didn't call, but it was exciting."
Baker, who had two dunks against the Spartans, finished with 18 points. Harrill, with the help of four 3-point baskets, led all scorers with 21 points.
Harrill also grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds, had three steals and blocked three shots.
Watauga made seven baskets from 3-point range, including one from Jones, who added 15 points and three assists for the Pioneers. Trevor Eggers and Eli Gailes each made a 3-point shot. Gales scored four points, but dished out nine assists.
Trent Wakefield led the Spartans with 18 points, while Soles added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Watauga boys 71, South Caldwell 47
Watauga 71 (12-5 3-4 NWC)
Harrill 7 3-4 21, Eggers 1 2-2 5, Gailes 1 1-3 4, Dobbins 2 0-0 4, Jones 5 4-7 15, Baker 8 2-5 18, Lambert 2 0-0 4, Andrews 0 0-0 0, Poulos 0 0-0 0, Ebaugh 0 0-0 0, Richardson 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 12-21 71.
South Caldwell 47 (1-14, 0-6)
Greene 1 2-2 5, Weaver 1 0-0 2, Cox 0 1-2 1, Wohala 1 0-0 3, Raby 1 0-0 3, Wakefield 7 2-2 18, Brackett 1 0-0 2, Soles 5 0-0 10, Byland 1 1-3 3, Hughes 0 0-0 0, Wingate 0 0-0 0, Kincaid 0 0-0, Weaver 0 0-0 0, Manning 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 6-9 47.
Watauga 22 15 20 14 -- 71
South Caldwell 12 15 4 16 -- 47
3-point goals--Watauga 7 (Harrill 4), Eggers, Gailes, Jones), South Caldwell 3 (Greene, Wohala, Raby). Rebounds--Watauga 41 (Harrill 10), South Caldwell 31 (Soles 10). Turnovers--Watauga 11, South Caldwell 16. Total fouls--Watauga 16, South Caldwell 14. Fouled out--None. Technical foul--South Caldwell, Soles (Grabbing the rim).