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Originally published: 2014-01-25 16:07:41
Last modified: 2014-01-25 16:08:26

Watauga boys' team can't overcome St. Stephens

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

HICKORY -- Watauga's boys' basketball team spent most of the fourth quarter trying to catch up to St. Stephens Friday night.
Once the Pioneers final caught Saint, they stopped scoring. St. Stephens had just enough offense to pull away for good in a 69-63 victory over visiting Watauga in a Northwestern Conference showdown.
Watauga (12-6, 3-5 NWC) went into the fourth quarter down 46-38, but didn't pull even until a Jay Harrill basket with 1:34 left in the game tied the game 63-63.
St. Stephens (12-6, 4-4) scored on back-to-back possessions to take a 67-63 lead with 47 seconds left. Watauga missed its final three shots from the field and two foul shots, which left the Pioneers scoreless in the final 1:34 of the game.
"I was proud of our guys not giving up," Pioneers coach Rob Sanders said. "For whatever reason, we don't score well in this building. We shot the ball horribly most of the game and we hit some big shots in some big moments to get us back into it and give us a chance."
Cam Baker sparked the Pioneers' comeback with a pair of slam dunks, the first one over St. Stephens forward Chris Hefner. Baker was called for a technical foul several seconds later by the officials, who said he was being "unsportsmanlike," according to Sanders.
Sanders said Baker wasn't taunting the Indians, but instead yelling at his own teammates to pick up their game.
"He got a couple of dunks there, and for whatever reason, because he was trying to pump up his teammates, the officials felt like he was being unsportsmanlike and gave him a technical foul," Sanders said. "It kind of backfired on the normal aspect of that because it just got him more fired up and our guys more fired up. It really fueled that run for us."
Baker's foul situation was a problem for Watauga. Baker had two fouls by 1:16 of the first quarter and sat on the bench during the second quarter.
Baker finished with nine points before fouling out with three minutes left in the game after scoring six points in the fourth quarter.
Point guard T.J. Poulos came off the bench to lead the Pioneers in scoring with 16 points. He also pulled down seven rebounds and dished out six assists.
Jay Harrill added 10 points and grabbed six rebounds.
St. Stephens was led by Hefner, who made four 3-point baskets and scored 19 points. Point guard Caron Corpening scored 16 points and Marcus Conner scored 15. St. Stephens made six 3-pointers compared to just two for Watauga, which made seven of them in a 71-47 victory over South Caldwell on Tuesday.
Both games were road games for the Pioneers. Watauga is 2-3 in the NWC on the road and faces games at Hibriten (Feb. 4) and at Hickory (Feb. 11).
Watauga has four home games left, including Tuesday when the Pioneers host Fred T. Foard. Watauga also hosts Freedom on Jan. 31, Patton on Feb. 7 and South Caldwell on Feb. 14.
"These are tough venues," Sanders said. "It's tough to play on the home court of everybody in the league. I think we're the same way. That's why it hurts when you give away conference games at home. You have to protect your home court because it's so hard to win on the road in this league."

St. Stephens boys 69, Watauga 63
Watauga 63 (12-6, 3-5)
Harrill 4 1-2 10, Eggers 3 2-2 9, Poulos 5 6-9 16, Dobbins 1 0-0 2, Jones 1 1-2 3, Ebaugh 2 0-0 4, Baker 4 1-2 9, Lambert 5 0-0 10, Gailes 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 11-17 63.
St. Stephens 69 (12-6, 4-4)
Corpening 6 4-8 16, Hefner 6 3-4 19, McGinnis 1 3-4 6, Ijames 2 0-0 5, Linney 1 0-0 2, Beasley 1 2-4 4, Jenkins 1 0-0 2, Conner 5 4-5 15, Payne 0 0-0 0, Echelberger 0 0-0 0, McGill 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 16-25 69.
Watauga    13 11 14 25 -- 63
St. Stephens    12 18 16 22 -- 69
3-point goals--Watauga 2 (Harrill, Eggers), St. Stephens 6 (Hefner 4, McGinis, Ijames). Rebounds--Watauga 35 (Dobbins, Poulos 7), St. Stephens 29 (Conner 8). Turnovers--Watauga 12, St. Stephens 14. Total fouls--Watauga 20, St. Stephens 16. Fouled out--Baker. Technical foul--Baker.

                                       Conf        All
    W    L    W    L
Freedom    8    0    17    0
Hickory    6    2    7    8
patton    4    4    10    7
Fred T. Foard    3    4    8    8
St. Stephens    4    4    12    6
Watauga    3    5    12    6
Hibriten    3    5    7    7
South Caldwell    0    7    1    15

Friday's games
St. Stephens 69, Watauga 63
Freedom 73, Foard 63
Hibriten 71, South Caldwell 49
Hickory 61, Patton 55

Tuesday's games
Fred T. Foard at Watauga
Hickory at Freedom
St. Stephens at Hibriten
South Caldwell at Patton