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Originally published: 2014-02-19 15:13:26
Last modified: 2014-02-19 15:14:12

Watauga girls knock off South Caldwell again

by Staff Reports

SAWMILLS -- Watauga's girls' basketball team looks like it's playing its best basketball at the right time.

The Pioneers, seeded sixth in the Northwestern Conference Tournament, took to the road and knocked off No. 3 seeded South Caldwell 61-53 in the first round of the tournament Tuesday.

Watauga (9-16) had just beaten the Spartans 61-59 in the friendly confines of Lentz-Eggers Gym a day earlier. It was Senior Night for the Pioneers, who had lost to South 44-26 earlier in the season.

There was no need for any emotional lift from that a senior night can give Tuesday. Instead, Watauga had three players score in double figures, and cut down on its mistakes to beat the Spartans (17-7) in Sawmills for the first time since 1997.

Ryan Loflin led Watauga in scoring with 19 points. She also grabbed seven rebounds.

Savanna Wood added 18 points and four steals, while Clare Harris scored 12 points.

Tori Derrick scored seven points, and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.

Watauga took an 11-4 lead after going on a 10-0 run to take control of the game. Watauga led by as many as 16 points in the first half, although South Caldwell closed the gap to 53-49 with 1:15 left in the game. Watauga responded by making eight of its final 10 foul shots to ice the game.

Loflin put an exclamation point on the win by making two free throws with 38.5 seconds left in the game. That put the Pioneers in front 56-49.

Watauga's foul shooting played a big role in the Pioneers' victory. Watauga made 22-of-26 free throws Tuesday.

South Caldwell faced some problems early in the game with Anna Lee Bollinger and Mikayla Everhart got into some foul trouble. The Spartans' Courtney Wood scored 25 points, while Caleigh Raby scored 12.

Bollinger finished with 10 points and Everhart had four before fouling out with 8.9 seconds left.

Watauga takes on No. 2 seeded Freedom at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Freedom, where the semifinals and the finals of the girls' and boys' tournaments will be played. Freedom beat No. 7 seeded Hibriten 68-41 on Tuesday.

Watauga has struggled with Freedom, having lost to the Patriots 71-44 in Morganton on Jan. 7, and 58-42 in Boone at Jan. 31.