Wood's shooting not enough to stop Patriots
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
MORGANTON -- There was a time in Watauga's 71-44 loss to Freedom in Northwestern Conference girls' basketball that the Pioneers' Savanna Wood was going to keep Watauga close the entire game.
Wood, who leads the Pioneers in scoring, finished with 18 points on six 3-pointers. She made five of them in the second quarter, which helped Watauga close a 13-point Freedom lead down to 32-25 by halftime.
Wood was the only Pioneer to score in the second quarter. But the senior was silenced the rest of the game, and Freedom (7-5, 2-1 NWC) pulled away to take a 46-33 lead by the end of the third quarter.
Watauga (4-9, 2-1) never got closer than 11 points the rest of the game. Freedom closed out the game with a 15-4 run in the final five minutes to seal the victory.
Watauga coach Klay Anderson was happy with the effort of his Pioneers, but said that others on the team have to provide consistent scoring. Kaelin McNeill added eight points, but no other Pioneer scored more than six points.
"We've got to have some folks step up," Anderson said. "I don't think that we didn't try. I'm not doubting our effort at all. The fact of the matter is we've got to have some girls who want to score the basketball. It filters down. If you can't score, you can't win, period."
Wood made her first 3-pointer of the game with 6:30 left in the first quarter to give the Pioneers a 5-0 lead. Freedom, which missed its first five shots of the game, came back with a 5-0 run to tie the game 5-5.
After Watauga retook the lead 9-5, Freedom closed out the first quarter with a 11-0 run. Watauga's offense shot 0-for-7 from the field and turned the ball over on another possession during that run.
Wood started to warm up in the second quarter with a 3-pointer with 6:05 left that stopped a 7-0 Freedom run. Wood missed her next 3-point attempt, but connected on her third with 4:56 left.
She added another 3-pointer to pull Watauga to 30-22 with 2:11 left, and her fifth trey with 1:07 left to close the Patriots' gap to 32-25.
"She came to play. She's a senior leader and she played like a senior leader," Anderson said of Wood. "She played like the best player on our team when she hits (3-pointers). I'm not blowing smoke or telling lies or anything else. The fact of the matter is teams have their best player and she is our best player. We rely on her heavily and she played really well in the first half."
Freedom had four players score in double figures, led by guard Amaryah Corpening's 17 points. Ariyana Williams, a freshman who leads the Patriots in scoring this season, added 12. AkiQula Mills scored 13 points and Amy Rhoney scored 10.
Freedom outscored Watauga 25-9 in the fourth quarter to pull away.
"Williams is so outstanding," Anderson said. "To be so young and to have the skill set she has, she can go up against any senior in our league or any other league."
Watauga hosts Hibriten Friday in the Pioneers' first home game since Dec. 18 when the Pioneers beat Wilkes Central. The Pioneers beat NWC rival St. Stephens the day before.
Freedom girls 71, Watauga 44
Watauga 44 (4-9, 2-1)
Millsaps 1 0-0 2, Wood 6 0-2 18, Derrick 1 1-3 3, Loflin 2 2-2 6, McNeill 3 2-2 8, Jones 1 0-0 2, Foutz 1 0-0 3, Carroll 0 0-0 0, Farthing 0 0-0 0, Brown 0 0-0 0, Stapleton 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 5-9 44.
Watauga 10 15 8 9 -- 44
Freedom 16 16 14 25 -- 71
3-point goals--Watauga 7 (Wood 6, Foutz), Freedom 5 (Corpening 2, Williams, Yamounti, Gardin). Rebounds--Watauga 26 (Derrick 5), Freedom 36 (Rhoney 12). Turnovers--Watauga 16, Freedom 8. Total fouls--Watauga 11, Freedom 14. Fouled out--None. Technical fouls--None.