Laura Barry coaches the boys

Laura Barry directs traffic during the Pioneers’ game against Ashbrook.

Laura Barry’s debut as the head coach of the Watauga boys’ basketball program did not go completely as planned, at least on the scoreboard.

The Pioneers lost 70-50 to visiting Gastonia Ashbrook on Dec. 3 at Lentz-Eggers Gym. The good news about the night was the Watauga girls’ team beat Ashbrook 59-58, also at Lentz-Eggers Gym.

Barry made Watauga basketball history by being the head coach of both programs at the same time. Barry took over the boys’ program after longtime coach Rob Sanders resigned.

Despite the boys’ game loss, Barry felt good about the night.

“For me, I was fine,” Barry said. “I think that was an easier transition than I was worried about. Having the guys ready and having coach (Bryce) Payne downstairs to do that was huge. Having the girls get a win was helpful.”

Barry thinks that both teams were ready to play at the start of each game. Watauga’s girls’ team had 14 lead changes and eight ties, while the boys’ team held an 18-0 lead early in the second quarter following a 3-point basket from Jake Sears.

Ashbrook’s boys’ team started to find its rhythm late in the second period and turned on its afterburners in the third.

“I think our guys were ready to play by the way we started in the first quarter,” Barry said. “I think we backed off of what we wanted to do a little bit and that hurt as (Ashbrook) got going.”

Barry said she was ready to coach, and didn’t change her attitude about her game-day approach. Her attitude was go into each game full-speed ahead and that winning the first game was a bonus to her mindset. So was playing at home.

“I honestly think you can’t conserve anything,” Barry said. “I can’t go into the first game knowing I’m going to have eight quarters, so I have to pace myself, because that’s not how I coach. For me, it was really helpful that I was fully present in the first game. I knew going into this I was prepared for two games and well rested. I was all-in on the first game, then took a few minutes in between and got up ready for the next one. Playing it out in my head was a little more intimidating, and doing it tonight wasn’t that bad.”

Barry also had a chance to reflect, however briefly, that she was also in charge of the boys’ team, and was directing them into a game for the first time. Usually, Barry is either talking to well-wishers or to local media following a girls’ game.

There was little time for well-wishers and no time for media between the games. She addressed the press and talked about both the girls’ and boys’ games when the boys were finished. Between the games, Barry had a moment of realization that she was about to take the court with the guys.

“I’ve seen these guys play for three years,” Barry said. “There’s been a rhythm to my game nights for three years when the guys are playing when we finish up. I think, just maybe for a moment, when doing warm-ups there was a moment when I was, ‘Yeah, this is my team,’ and I think that’s exciting. The outcome wasn’t what we wanted, but these guys are committed to working hard and there’s only a hopeful future in that so that is exciting. Taking that in and that it was our first game and it was at home, that was nice.”

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