Stines scores seven

Avery’s Alexis Stines (24) in action from earlier this season. Stines scored seven points in the Lady Vikings’ conference hoops opener at Polk County on Jan. 3.

The holiday season is generally an opportunity for family and friends to relax from the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day grind, as well as to pause and reflect.

For the young Avery girls’ basketball team, the week comprising the close of 2019 and opening of 2020 meant three challenging road games over a five-day stretch, taking the Big Red to Transylvania, Polk and Alleghany counties, respectively, for hardwood action.

Rosman 65, Avery 48

ROSMAN — Avery looked to get on the winning track with a trip to Rosman High School to face off with the Lady Tigers on Monday, Dec. 30. RHS, who had fallen short in four of its previous five contests, served as a comparable 1A foe with which the Big Red could right its ship.

Rosman scored the game’s first five points before Avery rallied to cut the Lady Tigers lead to 13-10 after one quarter of action. Ashley Dodson paced RHS with seven points, while the Lady Vikings were led by a pair of baskets from Tiffany Brocco.

Polk 59, Avery 19

COLUMBUS — In its first matchup on the hardwood in 2020, the Avery Lady Vikings (1-10) ventured to Polk County (8-1) to open Western Highlands Conference play against the Lady Wolverines. Polk County, who has struggled on the court over the past several seasons to the tune of a 21-game conference losing streak, took advantage of a shorthanded Avery roster missing a pair of its usual starters.

Polk opened the game with an 11-0 run in the first quarter before a basket from Avery’s Mari Maya closed the quarter with the Lady Wolverines holding a nine-point lead. Polk went on to extend its lead to 18 points at 22-4 midway through the second stanza before Avery closed the half outscoring Polk 7-2 to cut Polk’s lead to 24-11 at halftime.

Alleghany 47, Avery 30

SPARTA — To close a long week on the road, the Lady Vikings followed its Friday evening two-hour-plus bus trip south to Columbus with a more-than-two-hour bus ride north to Sparta for a Saturday afternoon non-conference tilt against the 8-0 Alleghany Lady Spartans.

The two teams played tightly through the first eight minutes of play, as the Lady Vikings trailed by only six points at 13-7 entering the second period. Lila Cantrell scored four points in the period for Avery, with a bucket from Hollifield and a Beck free throw to account for the AHS offense.

Avery boys’ basketball

Avery varsity boys basketball ended 2019 on a winning note to begin a three-game gauntlet of action last week on the hardwood.

The Vikings logged a few hundred miles on the activity bus with road trips last week to Rosman, Polk County and Alleghany. In the matchups, the Big Red earned a decisive win over the Tigers to begin the week, but dropped a heartbreaker in its conference opener to the Wolverines and came up short in a non-conference affair against the Spartans.

Avery 66, Rosman 40

ROSMAN — The story of the game for the Vikings in its showdown at Rosman was its ability to connect from beyond the three-point arc.

The teams played a nip-and-tuck first quarter, with the score knotted at 20 apiece entering the second period. Avery opened the second quarter with a 9-1 scoring run sparked by baskets by junior Troy Hoilman and freshman Logan Gilliam. Gilliam connected on six 3-point baskets in the first half that helped to propel the Vikings to a double-figures halftime lead at 36-25.

Polk 41, Avery 36

COLUMBUS — Following its win at Rosman, the Vikings sought to build a win streak at the expense of the Polk County Wolverines. Avery and Polk tangled in a low-scoring slugfest during the Vikings’ opening Western Highlands Conference contest. A back-and-forth affair was decided in the final minute, however, as a Polk 3-point basket extended a one-point Wolverine margin to two possessions and proved enough to come away with the win.

The Vikings took advantage of making three 3-point baskets in the first period to open up an 11-8 advantage after one quarter of play, but offensive struggles for both clubs slowed the pace and the totals on the scoreboard. Avery outpaced Polk by a 7-5 margin to take an 18-13 lead into the halftime locker room.

Avery’s offensive woes continued in the third period, as the team scored on a Chase Gilliam basket for a 20-13 lead.

Alleghany 52, Avery 38

SPARTA — After a long late-night bus ride back to the High Country from Polk County, the Vikings turned around the following day and trekked to Alleghany County for a Saturday, Jan. 4, basketball showdown with the Spartans.

Alleghany held a narrow 11-10 lead after one period of play, as the pair of Barinowski and Hoilman combined to account for all the Viking points in the frame. The game remained tight through the remainder of the first half, with the Spartans carrying a narrow 22-19 margin into the locker room at the halftime break.

Watauga boys’ basketball

TAYLORSVILLE — The Alexander Central boys’ basketball team struggled to stop Watauga’s Anderson Castle in the first half of the two teams’ game on Jan. 3.

Castle made 8-of-11 3-pointers in the first 16 minutes of the game. The bad news for Watauga was the game had a halftime, which gave Alexander Central Ed Wills a chance to put together a plan to slow Castle down in the second half.

That plan, combined with Castle losing his shooting momentum during halftime, allowed Alexander Central to regroup and beat Watauga 67-49.

Castle set a new Watauga record by making eight 3-pointers in one half. He also tied a school record for making eight 3-pointers in one game.

Watauga girls’ basketball

TAYLORSVILLE — Both the Watauga girls’ basketball team and Alexander Central had a player who scored 16 points to lead their teams offensively against each other in their game on Jan. 3.

Alexander Central’s leading scorer Teagan Pennell got three more points from her supporting cast as the Cougars beat visiting Watauga 49-46 in a Northwestern Conference game.

Watauga’s Chelsi Hodges finished with 16 points and pulled 10 rebounds for the Pioneers. Hodges scored 13 of her points in the first half on 5-of-10 shooting, but the Pioneers struggled with their offense by making just 28.6 percent in the first half and 26.9 percent in the game.

Ashe boys’ basketball

WEST JEFFERSON — Sometimes, it takes a bit of extra time to grab a win, and the Huskies boys basketball team got the overtime win against the North Wilkes Vikings Friday, Jan. 3 at home.

The Huskies went into the game on a two-game skid, and were hoping for their first win since Christmas.

Ashe put the pedal to the floor early, scoring bucket after bucket to grab an early lead. Seniors Nate Lee and Colby Greer led the Huskies’ scoring for the day, as they rushed out to a 16-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Ashe girls’ basketball

WEST JEFFERSON — After a slow start to the game, the Ashe County Huskies girls basketball team (8-2) won their defensive battle against the North Wilkes Vikings (8-5) at home Friday, Jan. 3. The Huskies were buoyed by sophomore big Jordan Jones’ 16 total rebounds, six blocks and seven points.

From the outset, it seemed the game would be a low-scoring and tight affair. Neither offense was able to build momentum, while both defenses were tightening the clamps wherever they could, leading to a 6-6 tie after one quarter.

Still facing a tough Vikings wall, the Huskies did not manage to score for more than two minutes of the second quarter, but junior sharpshooter Audrey Craven drilled a three for a 9-8 lead. She came back with another less than a minute later and a third with three minutes left in the first half, going on a 9-0 run on her own. The Huskies piled on the lead Craven built, being ahead 21-13 at the half.

App State men’s basketball

BOONE — Appalachian State guard Justin Forrest didn’t exactly scorch the Holmes Center nets with his shooting.

He still didn’t lose the confidence of his teammates.

App State has a big win on its 2019-20 season resume as result. Forrest hit a 3-point shot with .9 seconds left in the game to lift the Mountaineers past Georgia Southern 74-72 in front of a Holmes Center crowd of 1,630 on Jan. 4.

App State women’s basketball

TROY, Ala. – The Appalachian State women’s basketball team fell 84-55 to Troy on Jan. 4 in Trojan Arena in the second of two Sun Belt games to open league action.

Ashley Polacek highlighted the App State offense with a game-high 22 points on nine field goals and a trio of 3-pointers. It’s the third game this season with at least 20, which all have come on the road. It also ties her career high with three 20-point performances.

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