Watauga boys hold off Patton
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Watauga's boys' basketball team took every gift that Patton gave the Pioneers when it comes to foul shots.
Watauga made all 14 of its free throws in the fourth quarter in its 84-77 victory over Patton in a Northwestern Conference showdown at Lentz-Eggers Friday night. The Pioneers drained six straight free throws in the final 57.9 of the game, including four from point guard Eli Gailes.
"(Watauga) coach (Rob Sanders) always looks at me when I shoot free throws and says, 'You've got this,' and I always say 'Yes, sir.' I just knock them down," Gailes said.
The Pioneers, still smarting from a 67-62 loss to Hibriten on Tuesday when they made 1-of-10 foul shots in the second half, made 17-of-19 from the line in the game.
"Everything about Hibriten was off," Gailes said. "We couldn't throw the ball in the ocean if we tried. Tonight coach told us we've got to get over the loss and keep moving forward."
Watauga (14-8, 5-7 NWC), after a fast start, had to survive a bombardment of 3-point shots by Patton (12-9, 6-6) in the second quarter. The Panthers made five 3-point shots in the second, including four from guard Isaiah Williams.
Catching up with Williams was frustrating for the Pioneers since three of the four 3-pointers Williams made were from NBA range. Sanders told his players they were defending him properly, and that it was unlikely Williams would continue to his those shots.
"We told our kids that these guys are hitting NBA threes with a hand in their face," Sanders said. "There's nothing more you can do. The percentages say that they will not do that the entire game. It's going to drop off, so if we just take away the higher percentage shots, force them to kick it out and keep doing like you've been doing, and contest their shots and rebound, we'll be able to get back in this game and that's what we did."
Watauga did its own outside shooting courtesy of Jay Harrill, who made five 3-point shots and finished with 25 points. Trevor Eggers added two 3-pointers and eight points, while Gailes (10 points) and Utah Jones (five points) each contributed 3-point baskets.
But Watauga's guards did more than shoot well from the outside. Gailes dished out 10 assists and T.J. Poulos added seven assists on 29 made baskets.
Aaron Dobbins, starting in place of Cam Baker, finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds in his first start of the season. Matt Lambert added 12 points and seven boards. Most of Dobbins' and Lambert's points were scored inside the paint off assists from guards.
Baker did not play because he had his wisdom teeth pulled on Wednesday.
"Everything was clicking tonight," Poulos said. "They were getting open on the drives and they were easy to find."
Jevon Morris led Patton with 22 points. Ethan Roper and Rafael Horton each scored 12 points for the Panthers, who held a 47-42 halftime lead and a 59-58 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
The game was tied for a 10th time when Patton knotted the score at 71-71 with 2:31 left. Gailes broke the tie with a 3-pointer on Watauga's next possession. Harrill followed with two foul shots with 1:48 left to give the Pioneers a 76-71 lead they would never give back.
After Watauga led 79-77, the Pioneers scored the final four points of the game.
Watauga plays at Hickory on Tuesday and closes out the regular season at home against 4-A rival South Caldwell on Feb. 14.
Watauga boys 84, Patton 77
Patton 77 (12-9, 6-6)
Bostain 1 0-0 2, Williams 4 2-2 14, Roper 3 5-6 12, Morris 10 2-2 22, Ervin 3 0-0 7, Hamer 2 2-4 8, Horton 5 2-4 12, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Espinoza 0 0-0 0. Totals 28 13-18 77.
Watauga 84 (14-8, 5-7)
Harrill 9 2-2 25, Eggers 2 2-2 8, Gailes 2 5-5 10, Poulos 1 0-2 2, Dobbins 8 4-4 20, Jones 1 2-2 5, Ebaugh 1 0-0 2, Lambert 5 2-2 12. Totals 29 17-19 84.
Patton 21 26 12 18 -- 77
Watauga 25 17 16 26 -- 84
3-point goals--Patton 8 (Williams 4, Hamer 2, Ervin, Roper), Watauga 9 (Harrill 5, Eggers 2, Gailes, Jones). Rebounds--Patton 30 (Horton 10), Watauga 32 (Dobbins 15). Turnovers-- Patton 9, Watauga 11. Total fouls--Patton 19, Watauga 15. Fouled out--None. Technical fouls--None.