Watauga boys outlast Patton
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
MORGANTON -- Watauga's boys' basketball team never could quite deliver a knockout punch to host Patton Tuesday night.
Watauga's 59-53 win over the Panthers was never in any serious doubt, but the Pioneers could never get enough separation from Patton to feel comfortable. Watauga led 46-36 at the end of the third quarter, but Patton responded by opening the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run to pull to 48-46.
Watauga (11-4, 2-3 Northwestern Conference) answered with a quick 6-0 mini-run capped by a Matt Lambert basket to take a 54-46 lead. Watauga closed out its scoring by making 5-of-6 foul shots in the final 39 seconds of the game.
"It's not like we reinvented the wheel," Pioneers coach Rob Sanders said of Watauga's 6-0 run. "I told them to calm down, get your spacing about you. You know they're going to come and trap you, so make sure you've got people in the middle and understand what you're trying to do. We tell these that two passes out of a trap usually leads to a very good shot."
Watauga got 14 points from Cam Baker even though his playing time was limited in the first half because of foul trouble. Utah Jones added 12 points and Jay Harrill scored 10 for the Pioneers.
Sanders said that although Baker was not playing, he still was paying attention to what was going on during the game.
"The biggest thing you have to do in that situation is to keep your mind in the game," Sanders said. "Cam is as mentally strong as we've ever had. He kept himself in the game mentally and other players were pointing to him and telling him 'keep yourself in the game' and he was yelling back, 'I'm ready right now.'"
Jevon Morris scored 16 points for Patton (9-5, 3-2). Ethan Roper added 12 points.
The third quarter was not the first time Watauga claimed a 10-point lead. The Pioneers led 23-13 in the second and went into halftime leading 28-21.
"That's a good basketball team," Sanders said. "They're not sitting there with nine wins and now two losses in the league for nothing. They are a very athletic bunch and it seemed like every time we got it to a 10-point lead and in position to pull it away, they picked up their pressure and we made some bad decisions with the basketball."
It could have been more since Patton failed to score on its final four possessions until a free throw with 21 seconds left in the first half. But Watauga's offense also went silent by not scoring on its final seven possessions of the first half.
Watauga's drought continued into the third quarter when the Pioneers scored just once in four possessions. Patton closed to 30-27, but Watauga found its offense and took a 37-30 lead with 4:33 left.
"Toward the end of the third quarter, we were playing not to lose," Jones said. "We were playing for the clock when we should have been pushing to get more buckets. We've got to rebound better and make easy baskets instead of trying to make the Top 10 pass and turn the ball over."
The third quarter was good to the Pioneers, who made 8-of-18 shots from the field, including three of their final four of the quarter. Patton missed on its final three possessions, which left them trailing 46-36 going into the fourth.
Watauga hosts Hickory in a Northwestern Conference showdown Friday night.
Watauga boys 59, Patton 53
Watauga 59 (11-4, 2-3)
Harrill 3 2-2 10, Gailes 1 2-3 4, Poulos 2 2-2 6, Dobbins 2 0-0 4, Jones 4 4-6 12, Ebaugh 1 0-0 2, Baker 6 0-0 14, Lambert 3 1-2 7, Eggers 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 11-15 59.
Patton 53 (9-5, 3-2)
Bostain 3 0-1 7, Williams 2 0-0 4, Roper 4 4-6 12, Morris 5 4-5 16, Ervin 2 3-4 7, Hamer 1 0-0 2, Brown 0 0-0 0, Horton 2 1-3 5, Espinoza 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 12-19 53.
Watauga 21 7 18 13 -- 59
Patton 11 12 13 17 -- 53
3-point goals--Watauga 4 (Harrill 2, Baker 2), Patton 3 (Morris 2, Bostain). Total fouls--Watauga 17, Patton 20. Fouled out--Watauga, Gailes, Patton, Horton.