Watauga defense helps Pioneers to win over Spartans

Watauga’s defense, led by linebacker Jake Watsn (5), Orlando Leon (47), Grant Oliver (8) and Anderson Castle (far right) surrounds Mount Tabor’s Brian McIntyre.

BOONE — The Watauga football team went into its state 3-AA playoff game with visiting Mount Tabor averaging 51 points per game, but facing a Spartans team that has one of the top defenses in the 3-AA playoffs.

Watauga found just enough offense to go with a solid defense of its own and reached the fourth round of the state 3-AA playoffs with a 35-13 victory at Jack Groce Stadium on Nov. 29.

The Pioneers (12-1) play their next 2019 playoff game Dec. 6 at Weddington in a rematch of a playoff game last season. Weddington (14-0), the defending 3-AA state champions, beat Northwest Cabarrus 49-7 after taking a 28-0 halftime lead. Weddington ended Watauga’s season last year 42-14 in the third round of the playoffs.

Watauga, who lost to Mount Tabor in the 2017 state 4-A playoffs, never trailed in the rematch. Watauga got the first of three touchdown runs from Jake Watson on the Pioneers’ second drive of the game. Watson’s touchdown run, a one-yard plunge, capped a 60-yard 12-play drive and gave the Pioneers a 7-0 lead.

Watauga cross-country

BOONE — Watauga cross-country runner Avery Cannon finished ninth in the South Region of the Footlocker Championships and will compete in the national championships in San Diego on Dec. 14.

The race, which will be held at Balboa Park, begins at 1 p.m. Cannon is the fifth Watauga runner to participate in the event. Four Watauga boys — Mike Clinebell in 1985, Joe Lion in 1997 and Ricky Brookshire in 1999 have previously run in the event.

One Watauga girl, Kathleen Mansure, ran in the event in 2014.

Cannon, who won the state 3-A championship cross-country meet held in Kernersville on Nov. 9, ran a time of 15 minutes, six seconds, during the 5K regional race, which was held at McAlpine Park in Charlotte. Cannon improved his best time by 21 seconds in the race, and had run the Wendy’s Invitational earlier this season at McAlpine Park.

Watauga coach Randy McDonough said Cannon is gaining confidence every time he goes out. Cannon’s performance at a two-mile race called the Dash for Doobie, a scholarship fundraiser to honor former Reagan runner Nick “Doobie” Doub, who died in 2011, gave Cannon the confidence that he could post an outstanding time at the Footlocker regional, according to McDonough.

“His idea going down there was to just run a good time,” McDonough said. “That time he ran at the Dash for Doobie, a two-mile race when he ran a 9:14, I told him at that point that puts him up in the conversation of qualifying for Footlocker because 9:14 is the third-fastest time in Watauga history (for a two-mile race). The way he’s been coming on at the end of this season, I thought he could do it and darned if he didn’t go out and do it.”

Watauga girls’ basketball

BOONE — The Watauga girls’ basketball team held a lead during most of its game against the defending 2-A state champions Mountain Heritage.

Watauga held a 13-point lead in the first half, but saw the visiting Cougars rally to claim a 49-46 victory over the Pioneers on Nov. 26 at Lentz-Eggers Gym. Watauga played without Brelyn Sturgill and Molly Ward, but still managed to take a 20-7 lead in the second quarter and a 20-10 lead by halftime.

“I think this is a game we gave away,” Watauga coach Laura Barry said. “To be in that position at the end of the game makes me happy. There were a lot of mistakes we can grow from that are in our control and are fixable and that’s promising.”

Watauga (0-1) got 12 points from freshman Brooke Scheffler in her prep debut. She made two 3-point shots, including one with 2:49 left in the game that kept Watauga in front 43-37.

Cove Creek girls’ vs. Blowing Rock

BLOWING ROCK — In an early battle of unbeaten teams, visiting Cove Creek left the Blowing Rock gym with a 30-20 victory over the Rockets in middle school girls’ basketball on Nov. 21.

The Raiders improved to 5-0. Members of the basketball team, who also played on the Cove Creek volleyball team, are 22-0 in the two sports this year.

Blowing Rock slipped to 4-1, but also suffered a different loss. Standout Blowing Rock guard Kate Sears was driving to the basket early in the third quarter when she fell with her defender to the floor.

She injured her right arm, left the floor and did not return to the game. E.T. Tilley, who took the foul shots awarded to Sears, made one of two to tie the game at 15-15.

Cove Creek started to pull away by going on a 10-0 run to take a 25-15 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Blowing Rock vs. Cove Creek boys

BLOWING ROCK — The Blowing Rock boys’ basketball team used its size and its ability to get out on a fastbreak in its 55-25 win over visiting Cove Creek on Nov. 21.

Blowing Rock built a 27-14 lead by halftime and was never in jeopardy. Wyatt Kohout scored six points and a Kohout steal led to a Bennett Brown basket in the first quarter.

Grant Troyer and Ayden Knight added points to give the Rockets a 12-6 first quarter lead.

App State football

TROY, Ala. — An unblemished road record secured, App State now turns its attention to hosting another Sun Belt Conference Championship Game.

Zac Thomas threw for a career-high 326 yards while accounting for five touchdowns, including four through the air, as the 25th-ranked Mountaineers won 48-13 at Troy on Friday night. As the East Division winner with the head-to-head tiebreaker against West Division winner Louisiana, App State (11-1, 7-1) will face the Ragin’ Cajuns (9-2, 6-1) in Boone at noon Dec. 7 in a title-game rematch that airs on ESPN.

With impressive victories at North Carolina, Louisiana and South Carolina already in hand this season, App State clinched its first perfect road record since 1995 by converting its first 10 third-down chances, recording four sacks and intercepting two passes against the Trojans (5-7, 3-5) at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The Mountaineers’ 6-0 away record includes the most wins for any of the seven teams nationally without a road loss, and they’re the first FBS team to go 6-0 on the road since Western Michigan’s Cotton Bowl team in 2016.

App State also tied the Sun Belt record for single-season victories, as it has accounted for three of the four 11-win seasons in league history.

App State women’s basketball

BOONE — A second-half surge by Appalachian State women’s basketball led to a 77-68 Mountaineers win over Mercer on Nov. 29 evening in the Holmes Center

App State picks up its first win of the season to improve to 1-5, while Mercer drops to 1-6 on the season.

Four Mountaineers scored in double figures with Pre Stanley pouring in an efficient 21 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and a perfect 11-for-11 from the free throw line, also a personal high. The junior has scored at least 20 points in the last three games, averaging 22.3 points on 53.7 percent shooting.

Ashe boys’ basketball

WEST JEFFERSON — Legendary football coach Bear Bryant once said, “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.” In their home opener, the Ashe County Huskies boy’s basketball team’s defense looked good enough for a run, but their offense could not get the job done in a 60-35 loss to the Alexander Central Cougars (1-1).

The Huskies (0-2) went into the game shorthanded, missing starting wing Austin Poe. Head coach Nathan Colvard said Poe had a wrist surgery earlier that day and would likely miss two weeks. Also out were Camden Current with a broken leg and Dawson Cox with illness.

The Huskies, still in the stages of cohesion as a unit, looked disjointed from the start of the game. The Cougars opened the scoring, rattling off six unanswered points, while Ashe struggled to get much out of their possessions. This culminated in the Huskies’ lowest-scoring quarter of the game and the Cougars’ highest as the first quarter ended with a 19-5 Cougars lead.

Ashe-Avery boys’ basketball

NEWLAND — The Avery Vikings varsity boys basketball team opened its 2019-2020 season on a winning note, using a 12-2 scoring run to open the game to maintain a working lead in defeating the visiting Ashe County Huskies 64-49 in Viking Gym on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

Ashe played the contest without key contributors Austin Poe and Dawson Cox, members of the Huskies football team whose season ended the prior weekend, while Avery played without the services of Jesse Jones, who was injured in Avery’s football season finale last week. One Avery football player proved to be a decisive difference in the Viking victory, however, as junior forward Troy Hoilman led all scorers with 23 points, 17 of which were scored in the second half.

Ashe girls’ basketball

WEST JEFFERSON —Basketball season is back, and the Huskies girls’ basketball team (2-0) got the 62-53 win in their home opener against the Alexander Central Cougars (1-1) Tuesday, Nov. 26. The team was buoyed by a 48 percent shooting night from beyond the arc.

The Huskies went into the game short-handed, playing without projected starter Kenadie Hudler. Head coach Brianna Ashley said Hudler picked up an elbow injury against Avery Nov. 19, and would have been able to play if a brace the school ordered had arrived in-time for the game.

The Huskies struck first and kept scoring early. Audrey Craven caught fire early, raining threes on the Cougars while the Huskies’ quick passing kept finding open looks for their shooters. Craven finished the game with 12 points, all coming from three-point land. In total, the Huskies went 12 of 25 from beyond the arc, good for 48 percent shooting.

Ashe-Avery girls’ basketball

NEWLAND — Avery varsity girls basketball began with a home game to open its 2019-20 season against area rival Ashe County. The Lady Vikings offered a strong defensive effort in its maiden voyage at Viking Gym, but was unable to dig out of an early deficit as the Lady Huskies defeated the Big Red by a 46-37 final score on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

Ashe opened the first quarter with hot shooting, draining three 3-point baskets, including a pair of treys by Hallie Treva. The senior forward led all scorers in the contest with 19 points in the contest, while teammate Audrey Craven scored six of her eight points for the game during the first period.

Avery struggled to find the basket in the opening frame, as Tiffany Brocco provided the lion’s share of the offense for the Lady Vikings by scoring six of Avery’s eight points in the period as the Lady Huskies held a 17-8 advantage through one quarter.

Avery’s offensive struggles continued into the second quarter, scoring just three baskets in the eight-minute frame. Jessi Autry drained a 3-pointer off the bench to offer some instant offense for the Vikings, while teammate Emree Hoilman sank three free throws during the quarter. Treva scored five points in the period as the Lady Huskies maintained a 25-19 lead at halftime.

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