Watauga boys' basketball team smothers Ashe
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Ashe picked a bad night to struggle with its offense.
Watauga made sure of that. Watauga took a 21-point first-half lead and then put things in cruise control in a 55-40 victory in front of a near-packed Lentz-Eggers Gym Friday night.
Watauga (3-0) took a 15-3 lead by the end of a first quarter that saw Ashe (1-2) fail to score from the field until there were 6.2 seconds left in the period. Eli Gambill did the honors, which pulled the Huskies to 15-3.
Ashe was 1-for-7 in the first quarter. The Huskies also turned the ball over six times during the first eight minutes of the game. Watauga was able to convert those turnovers into just six points.
“That’s exactly what we wanted to do,” Pioneers coach Rob Sanders said. “We came out and threw our half-court trap and scramble and picked up the pressure. We wanted to force them to turn it over and give us some quick and easy looks. When you’ve got a team that is struggling offensively, you want to put pressure on the them and create some easy baskets.”
Watauga opened the second quarter with a 10-2 run that gave the Pioneers a 25-5 lead. Watauga continued to roll by taking a 29-9 lead by halftime. The Pioneers delivered their knockout blow by scoring the first eight points of the third quarter to grab a decisive 37-9 advantage.
“We knew Watauga was going to come out with that early push with that pressure with the trapping,” Ashe coach Scott Grubb said. “I was really hoping our kids would respond better, but we were on our heels.”
“We didn’t want to get ourselves stuck in cruise control,” Sanders said. “We didn’t want to let up on the gas or just hap-hazardly go about our business in the second half. The guys came out and played really hard in the third quarter and maintained that 20 points lead going into the fourth quarter.”
Ashe closed to 15 points twice in the fourth quarter, including the final score, but never got closer. Ashe not only struggled with scoring baskets from the field, but also made just 8-of-21 foul shots. Ashe regrouped in the second half by outscoring Watauga 31-26.
“To Watauga’s credit, they are so athletic,” Grubb said. “Their speed and their length gave us fits all night. Koppenhaver was terrific tonight. It was just one of those nights.”
Starting point guard DeWayne Mackey and backup forward Tyler Sturgill each scored 13 points for the Pioneers. Mackey also dished out four assists.
Allen Koppenhaver added 10 points and Ben Howser scored seven. Cam Baker, Matt Lambert and Ben Howser each grabbed six of Watauga’s 35 rebounds.
Devan Sheets scored 12 points and Sam Bowers scored eight for Ashe. Eli Gambill grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
Watauga plays at McDowell on Tuesday.
Watauga boys 55, Ashe 40
Laws 2 0-3 5, D. Sheets 3 4-6 12, Lawrence 0 1-4 1, Bowers 3 2-2 8, Spell 2 0-0 5, Ashley 1 1-4 3, Gambill 2 0-0 4, Lee 1 0-0 2, Moore 0 0-2 0, S. Sheets 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 8-21 40.
Sturgill 5 3-7 13, Margolis 0 3-43 3, Koppenhaver 4 2-3 10, Baker 2 0-3 5, Howser 3 1-1 7, Mackey 5 2-2 13, Lambert 2 0-0 4, Gailes 0 0-0 0, Steury 0 0-0 0, Harrill 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 11-20 57.
Ashe 3 6 16 15 — 40
Watauga 15 14 16 10 — 55
3-point goals—Ashe 4 (D. Sheets 2, Laws, Spell), Watauga 2 (Baker, Mackey). Rebounds—Ashe 30 (Gambill 8), Watauga 35 (Three with six). Turnovers—Ashe 11, Watauga 10. Total fouls—Ashe 18, Watauga 18. Fouled out—None. Technical fouls—None.