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Originally published: 2014-02-18 11:55:05
Last modified: 2014-02-18 14:28:39

Watauga girls' team surprises South Caldwell

by Staff Reports

Watauga's girls' basketball team proved Monday it could beat South Caldwell. The Pioneers get another chance to do it again tonight.

Watauga trailed by eight points with 4:44 left to go in its game with South Caldwell, but rallied to claim a 61-59 victory over the Spartans on Senior Night in a Northwestern Conference showdown at Lentz-Eggers Gym.

"It was Senior Night, so it was important for the girls," Pioneers coach Klay Anderson said. "The fact that our three seniors had huge roles in doing it; it wasn't like they were sitting back or anything like that. If it wasn't for some big buckets or some big rebounds or some big defensive plays by the three of them, we wouldn't have been in that position."

Watauga (8-16, 6-8 NWC) trailed South Caldwell (16-8, 9-5) 55-47, but closed out the game with a 13-4 run. Savanna Wood made two foul shots with 14.7 seconds left to give Watauga a 60-59 lead.

South Caldwell never led by more than eight points despite hitting nine 3-pointers in the game. The Spartans led 14-12 by the end of the first quarter and led 29-28 at halftime.

Wood finished with 17 points for the Pioneers. She also pulled down six rebounds and three steals.

"The girls just kept battling," Anderson said. "A big part of the game was how we finished. Basically coming from nothing and being able to fight and come back and to really finish as strong as we did."

Ryan Loflin finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Pioneers. Her three-point play pulled Watauga to 55-50 and sparked Watauga's late-game run.

The Pioneers followed with a 3-point basket from Tori Derrick, a basket from Clare Harris and a 3-pointer by Wood to pull to 59-58 with 1:06 left.

Derrick and Harris each finished with nine points.

Watauga also got eight points and 15 rebounds from Kaelin McNeill. Loflin also had five assists and five steals for the Pioneers.

Caleigh Raby scored 19 points, with the help of four 3-point shots. Anna Lee Bollinger finished with 17 points with the help of three 3-point baskets.

"They shot the ball extremely well," Anderson said. "Don't take anything away from them. The had nine 3-pointers and that's hard to handle, especially since we didn't make any until late in the third quarter."

The Pioneers turn their attention to tonight's game, which begins at 7 p.m. at South Caldwell. Watauga dropped a 44-26 loss on Jan. 22. It was Watauga's lowest scoring production of the season.

But, the Pioneers were missing Harris, who had a broken wrist. Wood also missed most of the game after leaving in the first quarter because of a concussion.

Anderson feels the Pioneers gained some advantage on the Spartans Monday night.

"I feel it gives us an advantage going down there tonight," Anderson said. "If it was (South Caldwell coach) Jeff Parham playing, we would run into a hornets nest. It's him trying to convince high school girls to go out there and play like a group of hornets, for lack of a better word. In the back of their minds, they know they beat us at their place when we were not at full strength. But last night, when we were healthy, we beat them."

The last time Watauga beat South Caldwell was in the semifinals of the 2011 NWC tournament, which was played at Hickory High School. Should Watauga beat the Spartans for the second straight time, the Pioneers would face the winner of the Hickory-Fred T. Foard first-round game, which is at Hickory.

The semifinals and the finals are at Freedom High School.

 

WATAUGA BOYS 83, SOUTH CALDWELL 38

Watauga's boys' basketball team crushed South Caldwell 83-38 in the Pioneers' Northwestern Conference season finale Monday at Lentz-Eggers Gym.

The Pioneers (16-8, 7-7 NWC) followed their 56-50 upset win at Hickory on Saturday by outscoring the Spartans 27-9 in the third quarter, and 48-13 in the second half. Watauga had five players scored in double figures, led by Jay Harrill's 17 points.

Harrill hit three 3-pointers in the third quarter to spark a 16-5 run and give the Pioneers a 47-27 lead.

Trevor Eggers added 11 points and six rebounds, while Aaron Dobbins, Cam Baker and Matt Lambert each scored 10 points.

Watauga finished fourth in the NWC standings, and hosts Patton at 7 tonight. Watauga swept Patton during the regular season, having taken a 59-53 decision in Morganton on Jan. 14 and an 84-77 win on Feb. 7

Watauga never trailed after three straight baskets by Lambert, which gave the Pioneers a 9-3 lead. Watauga led 14-8 at the end of the first quarter and 35-25 by halftime.

Should Watauga beat Patton, the Pioneers would face the winner of the Freedom-South Caldwell game, which is also tonight. Watauga is the only team to beat Freedom this season, having done so with a 75-65 victory in Boone on Jan. 31.

Freedom beat Watauga 82-71 at home on Jan. 8 after nearly completely blowing a 23-point first-half lead. Watauga pulled to within four of Freedom early in the fourth quarter, but could not completely overtake the Patriots.