Slam dunk

Watauga’s Ben Ricker dunks the ball against Gastonia Ashbrook during their game Dec. 2.

BOONE — The Watauga boys’ basketball team looked to be equal to the task of keeping up with visiting Gastonia Ashbrook in the first half.

Ashbrook hit a faster gear in the second half that Watauga could not match. The Greenwave rolled over Watauga with a 70-50 victory over the Pioneers at Lentz-Eggers Gym in their season debut.

Watauga (0-1) was playing its first game for new coach Laura Barry, who is the first woman to coach a Watauga boys’ basketball team in the school’s existence, which goes back to 1965. Barry had just coached the Watauga girls’ team to a 58-57 win over the Ashbrook girls’ team earlier in the night.

Barry didn’t have Anderson Castle and Jaiden Bond on the team since the two players are still on the football team, which is in the fourth round of the state 3-AA playoffs. But Barry refused to use that as an excuse for the loss.

“I think we were ready for this game and poised to compete with Ashbrook,” Barry said. The first quarter was great. We had our fans behind us and our guys were in a rhythm. But some of the blocked shots and some of our turnovers made us a little skittish going to the basket. That hurt us because that is what we want to do.”

Watauga turned to its outside shooting to combat the Greenwave (1-3). Shooting guard Jake Sears led the Pioneers with four 3-pointers and finished with 12 points. Bennett Ricker added two 3-pointers and finished with 14 points, including a dunk in the second quarter.

“(Ricker) was great,” Barry said. “We went to him off the bench and we knew we had to play him more in the second half because he was fearless. He was doing what we asked and he was a huge boost in our zone with his rebounding.”

Watauga actually led 15-10 at the end of the first quarter, but Ashbrook started to make its move. Ashbrook closed the second quarter with an 11-3 run and led 27-24 at halftime.

Watauga fell behind 33-26, but got a free throw and a 3-point basket from Jackson Earnhardt to close to 33-30, but Ashbrook closed the quarter with a 18-3 run to take a 51-33 lead.

Ashbrook opened the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run to take a 58-33 lead, the Greenwave’s largest lead of the game.

Ashbrook’s James Dotson led all scorers with 20 points. Shamar Adams added 18 points and Jordan Watkins chipped in eight for the Greenwave.

“They just did a great job running to the rim on us,” Barry said. “They got out in that second quarter and got way too many transition buckets and easy buckets. We knew if we let them get going and be aggressive that easily it would fire them up.”

Watauga plays at Avery on Dec. 5 and at Wilkes Central on Dec. 10.

Ashbrook boys 70,

Watauga 50

Ashbrook (1-3) 70

Bond 3 1- 7, Watkins 4 1-4 9, Thompson 1 0-0 2, Dotson 7 5-6 20, Rainey 2 1-1 6, Allen 0 0-2 0, Adams 8 2-2 18, Carpenter 3 0-0 8, Davis 0 0-0 0, Sanders 0 0-0 0, Jackson 0 0-0 0, Lewis 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 10-20 70.

Watauga 50 (0-1)

Freeman 1 0-0 2, Sears 4 0-0 12, Greene 1 0-0 3, Ricker 6 0-0 14, Earnhardt 1 2-4 5, Hale 1 1-2 3, Robbins 0 1-2 1, Martin 1 2-2 4, Ward 3 0-0 6, Privette 0 0-0 0, Perry 0 0-0 0, Greer 0 0-0 0, Totals 18 6-10 50.

Ashbrook 10 17 24 19 — 70

Watauga 15 9 9 17 — 50

3-point goals—Ashbrook 4 (Caarpenter 2, Dotson, Railey), Watauga 8 (Sears 4, Ricker 2, Greene, Earnhardt). Total fouls—Ashbrook 12, Watauga 13. Fouled out—None.

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