Freedom boys rally past Watauga

Watauga’s Holden Perry moves the ball up the court guarded by Freedom’s Quentin Rice.

MORGANTON — The Watauga boys’ basketball team looked ready to knock off Northwestern Conference champion Freedom despite the game being played at Freedom’s gym on Feb. 11.

Then the Patriots got their wake-up call in the third quarter and put all the distance they needed on the Pioneers. Freedom outscored Watauga by 16 points in the third quarter and by 14 in the fourth quarter to take a 76-47 victory.

Watauga (7-15, 4-8 Northwestern Conference), which finishes the regular season in sixth place, led the Patriots 31-30 at halftime. The Pioneers trailed 17-16 in the first quarter and was able to keep Freedom’s explosive offense in check the rest of the first half.

Freedom (21-1, 10-1) opened the second half with six straight points to take a 36-31 lead before a bizarre play left Watauga without its point guard. Watauga’s Jaiden Bond got tangled up with Freedom’s James Freeman after Freeman’s foot, after a play at the Watauga basket, ended up on Bond’s shoulder.

The two struggled to separate, but after they untangled, Bond gave Freeman a small shove. Bond was called for two technical fouls and was ejected from the game.

Davis made all four of the technical foul shots, leaving Freedom in front 40-31. Watauga’s Holden Perry stopped the 10-0 run with a basket and the Pioneers stayed close after an Andrew Freeman basket left the Pioneers trailing 49-42. But, Watauga’s offense suddenly went cold and Freedom closed the quarter with an 8-0 run that left the Patriots a 57-42 lead that would never be threatened.

Castle led the Pioneers in scoring with 14 points, getting nine of them in the first half. Perry added 10 points and Bond scored five. Watauga was limited to five points in the fourth quarter including a basket from Tyler Ward, a foul shot from James Privette and two free throws from Bennett Ricker.

Watauga did not have an answer for Davis, who led all scorers with 28 points. Quinton Rice scored 16 points and Que Garner added eight.

Freedom boys 76, Watauga 47

Watauga 47 (7-15, 4-8 NWC)

Bond 2 0-0 5, Freeman 2 0-0 4, Sears 1 0-0 3, Castle 5 2-2 14, Perry 4 1-2 10, 0 2-2 2, Earnhardt 0 2-2 2, 1 0-0 2, Ward 1 0-0 2, 1 1-2 3, Greer 0 0-0 0, Hale 0 0-0 0 Totals 17 6-8 47,

Freedom 76 (21-1 10-1)

Ledford 1 0-0 3, Rice 7 1-3 16, Tolbert 2 0-0 6, Hemphill 0 0-2 0, Davis 10 6-7 28, Johnson 3 1-2 7, Griffith 1 0-0 3, Freeman 2 4-6 6, Garner 3 2-2 8, lackey 0 0-0 0, Birchfield 0 0-0 0, Pitman 0 0-0 0, Moore 0 0-0 0. Totals 2814-22.

Watauga 16 15 11 5 — 47

Freedom 17 13 27 19 —76

3-point goals—Watauga 5 (Castle 2, Perry, Bond, Sears), Freedom 6 (Tolbert 2, Ledford, Rice, Davis, Griffith). Total fouls—Watauga 14 Freedom 10. Fouled out—None. Technical fouls—Bond 2.

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