Undefeated champions

The Blowing Rock boys’ basketball team celebrates its middle school tournament victory.

Blowing Rock’s showdown with Parkway in the Watauga County Middle School Boys’ Championship Tournament featured the height of the Rockets against the shooting of the Patriots.

Blowing Rock didn’t necessarily dominate the Patriots with height, but still managed to take a 37-34 victory Jan. 30 at Watauga High School’s Lentz-Eggers Gym. Blowing Rock completed a 17-0 season one year after losing to Hardin Park in the 2019 finals.

The win over Parkway took a late-game rally. Parkway (14-3) trailed 29-27 at the end of the third quarter, but led 34-31 in the fourth quarter after Maddox Greene scored seven straight points.

Blowing Rock struck back by getting a driving basket from Wyatt Kohout and a stickback from Sam Nixon to surge back in front 35-34.

Rockets center Morgan Henry scored the game-winning shot on an offensive rebound with 38.3 left in the game.

Blowing Rock girls 33, Cove Creek 28BOONE — The Blowing Rock girls’ basketball team claimed a 33-28 victory over Cove Creek in the finals of the Watauga County Middle School Girls’ Championship Tournament at Watauga High School Lentz-Eggers Gym.

Blowing Rock (15-2) outscored Cove Creek 17-8 in the fourth quarter. The Rockets’ Kate Sears converted 7-of-8 free throws in the fourth quarter as Cove Creek (15-2) was forced to foul her to stop the clock.

E.T. Tilley sank two free throws and Katie Durham also made two free throws in the fourth quarter. One of Durham’s free throws was the completion of a three-point play that gave the Rockets a 23-18 lead with 2:21 left in the game.

Sears led the Rockets in scoring with 15 points, while Durham scored 14. Mattie Durham and Tilley each scored two points.

Cove Creek kept the game close thanks to a pair of foul shots from Madi Combs, a basket from Bailey Main and a 3-point basket from Laney Shook. Main added another basket inside the final 30 seconds of the game that left the Raiders trailing 32-28, but Durham scored the final point of the game from the foul line.

Watauga girls’ basketballMARION — The Watauga girls’ basketball team has started to put together a winning streak with a handful of games left in the regular season.

Performances such as the one Rebekah Farthing produced on Feb. 4 is a big reason why. Farthing scored 24 points to lead the Pioneers to a 52-40 road victory at McDowell on Feb. 4 in a game that was postponed from Jan. 31 because of inclement weather.

Watauga (14-5, 7-2 Northwestern Conference) has won four straight games and seven of its last nine games.

Farthing made five of her six shots from two-point range. She also scored one from 3-point range. She also made 11 of her 13 foul shots, including 6-of-8 in the fourth quarter.

Farthing was the only Pioneer to score in double figures. Brooke Byrd finished with seven points, while Taylor Lipford made two 3-point baskets and finished with six points. Chelsi Hodges also finished with six points.

Watauga boys’ basketballMARION — The Watauga boys’ basketball team got off to a poor start and McDowell used that to bury the visiting Pioneers 64-43 Feb. 3.

Watauga (6-13, 3-6 NWC) lost its seventh straight game. The Pioneers got 21 points from Anderson Castle and seven more from Jaiden Bond, but most of the Pioneers struggled to make shots against the Titans, especially in the first half when Watauga made 5-of-24 shots from the field, including 2-of-13 in the second quarter.

Avery wrestlingLEDGER — On a night more indicative of a coronation than a competition, the Avery wrestling team was a buzzsaw that sliced through the competition.

The Vikings, heavily favored entering the Western Highlands Conference Championships on Thursday, Jan. 30, continued to meet and exceed expectations, running away with the 2020 WHC team championship, with an astounding 10 Vikings crowned individual conference champions.

Avery finished the event with a total of 226.5 points, with Madison a distant second at 141 points. Polk finished third with 123 points, with Mitchell placing fourth with 106 points and Mountain Heritage in fifth with 108 points.

Ethan Shell was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the WHC Championships, as he dispatched of Polk’s Satchel McCoy in 54 seconds in the semifinals and downed Mitchell’s Dylan Lowery with a third-period pinfall at 120 pounds to earn the crown and individual award.

Teammate Lucas Andrews was named WHC Wrestler of the Year following the event, as the senior wrapped up his final conference tournament with wins by first-period fall over both Mt. Heritage’s Rocky Penland and Polk County’s Gage McSwain to earn a WHC championship at 182 pounds.

The Vikings took part in a quad meet tune-up in Cherryville against the host school, as well as Bradford Prep and Mountain Island Charter School on Tuesday, Jan. 28, followed two days later by the Western Highlands Conference tournament at Mitchell High School, where the Big Red followed its regular-season conference crown with the conference tournament title as well.

Avery 66, Bradford 0Avery was dominant in a victory against Bradford Prep School. Avery did not have to surrender a point due to a pair of double forfeits at 106 and 113 pounds, respectively, and the Vikings were victorious in each of the remaining dozen bouts.

River Griffith kicked off the dual with a 23-second pinfall win at 132 pounds, followed by a third-period-pinfall win by teammate Triston Adams at 138 pounds. In the 145-pound weight class, Johnathan Cable was a winner by fall in 39 seconds, with a first-period fall at 152 pounds by Avery’s Bradley Parker. Teammate Seth Blackledge earned a 19-4 tech fall win at 160 pounds, with Dalton Town earning a 12-6 decision win over Bradford Prep’s Matthew Mauro.

Avery 71, Cherryville 12The only points surrendered by Avery at the event came in the form of forfeits to Cherryville at the 106- and 113-pound weight classes. The Vikings were victors in each of the other bouts to walk away with another one-sided victory.

Avery girls’ basketballMARSHALL — It was a happy birthday indeed for Avery junior Reagan Hughes.

Behind a career-high 17-point scoring performance from Hughes, the Avery Lady Vikings broke open a close game with a strong fourth quarter to down the Madison Lady Patriots on the road by a final score of 47-33, sweeping the regular-season series as the team looks to climb the Western Highlands Conference standings leading toward the upcoming conference tournament.

The clubs played a close-knit first eight minutes in the Patriots’ palace, with the Big Red using a pair of Alexis Stines baskets to pull ahead by a pair at 8-6 after one quarter. Hughes heated up for the Lady Vikings in the second stanza, as she poured in a pair of baskets and a pair of free throws as part of an eight-point first half.

Teammate Lila Cantrell sank three free throws in the frame as well, while Madison countered with five points from guard Shelby Byas, and five free throws by Nakayla Marler.

Avery boys’ basketballMARSHALL — Thanks to weather forcing a postponement last week, the Avery Vikings varsity boys basketball team only managed to play one game in the past week, a Western Highlands Conference matchup against the Madison Patriots.

In the first matchup between the schools, Madison senior Alex Chambers scored his 1,000th point as well as set a school record for points in a game with 44 points. In the rematch, however, the Avery defense held Chambers in check, limiting him to just 10 points.

Avery took a lead into halftime following a strong offensive effort through two quarters.

Madison rallied, however, to outscore the Big Red 39-22 over the course of the second half to earn a 67-55 win.

Ashe boys’ basketballRONDA — For the second time this season, the Ashe County Huskies boys basketball team faced off against the East Wilkes Cardinals, this time on the road Monday, Feb. 3. The Huskies hosted East Wilkes Jan. 20, winning 66-62.

The Huskies started fast, with Dawson Cox hitting a big three early, and the relentless rebounding of Ethan Ashley helping the Huskies grab a 9-7 after the first quarter.

Ashe girls’ basketball

RONDA — The Ashe County Huskies girls basketball team (14-5) made the trek to Ronda Monday, Feb. 3 to face the East Wilkes Cardinals (3-16) in one of the final regular season games, which turned out to be a defensive slugfest. With the 39-26 win, the Huskies finished the season sweep of the Cardinals, having previously beaten them 52-24 in West Jefferson Jan. 20.

The Huskies came out in the second looking to expand their lead, and that’s what they did. Helping their cause was constant fouling from the cardinals, who kept sending Huskies to the charity stripe. East Wilkes managed to continue their own scoring, but it was not enough as the Huskies lead 25-18 at the half.

App State women’s basketball

BOONE, N.C. — App State women’s basketball pushed past Georgia Southern with an 83-75 triumph on Saturday afternoon at the Holmes Center.

The Mountaineers improve to 6-14 and 3-6 in league play after their first Sun Belt sweep of the season. Georgia Southern falls to 6-14 and 3-6.

App State had its most balanced scoring of the campaign with a season-high 83 points and shooting a season-best 47.3 percent from the field.

Also, the canned 12 3-pointers and shot 54.5 percent from long-range, with both being season highs

Five players scored in double figures with Pre Stanley and Ashley Polacek scoring a game-high 18 points. Polacek stepped once again in the second half with 15 of her points in the third and fourth quarters. The redshirt-senior added six rebounds and three helpers. All four of Lainey Gosnell’s field goals were from three, scoring 15 points and corralling six boards.

Stanley honored

BOONE — App State women’s basketball junior Pre Stanley was named the College Sports Madness Sun Belt Player of the Week, as announced on Feb. 3.

Stanley garners the first weekly award of her career. She led the Mountaineers to their first Sun Belt sweep of the season with wins over Georgia State (65-37) and Georgia Southern (83-75), respectively.

The Rockledge, Fla., native led the Mountaineers in scoring, steals, tied for the lead in assists and led Appalachian State in field goal percentage with at least 20 shot attempts.

App State men’s basketball

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – App State men’s basketball shot a single-game program record 72.7 percent from the field, but fell at league leading Little Rock 93-86 Feb. 1.

App State (12-11, 6-6 SBC) went 15-of-20 from the field in the first half and 17-of-24 in the second half to finish 32-of-44 from the field. The field goal percentage bettered the previous mark of 71.0 percent (44-of-62) set against Tennessee Wesleyan on Dec. 30, 1999.

In addition, the Mountaineers shot 63.2 percent (12-of-19) on 3-pointers. It marks the best three-point percentage in a game for the Mountaineers since Feb. 19, 2011 at High Point, when App State shot 69.2 percent (9-of-13) from deep.

Forrest honored by league

NEW ORLEANS, La. — After averaging 24.5 points over the weekend, App State men’s basketball guard Justin Forest has been named Sun Belt Men’s Basketball Co-Player of the Week.

Forrest earned the honor along with Little Rock’s Markquis Nowell. It marks the second time Forrest has earned the award this season and third time in his Mountaineer career.

In a win at Arkansas State on Jan. 30, Forrest poured in a game-high 26 points, including a 4-of-7 clip on three pointers, to go along with four rebounds. He followed that up with a 23-point performance at Little Rock on Saturday, going 8-of-11 from the field and 5-of-8 on three-pointers.

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