First game on the way

Watauga’s Jonah Martin, right, returns to the Pioneers’ lineup.

BOONE — The Watauga boys’ basketball team has already seen two games postponed this season.

Both games — one each against Avery and Mountain Heritage — will eventually be made up. After playing two preseason scrimmages, the Pioneers finally get a chance to play for keeps Dec. 3 when they host Gastonia Ashbrook.

Watauga’s girls’ team also hosts Ashbrook on Dec. 3. The girls’ game is scheduled for 6 p.m. with the boys’ game to follow.

It’s the first time that coach Laura Barry will lead both varsity programs. She coached the Pioneers’ girls’ team Nov. 26, but the Pioneers fell 49-46 to defending 2-A state champion Mountain Heritage.

“I was glad to get started (Nov. 26), that’s for sure,” Barry said. “It was good to get that first one under my belt. It’s going to have to be a routine.”

Barry said the boys’ team is anxious to play against somebody else instead of facing each other in practice. Barry said having some extra practice time is helpful, but the players are also ready to start the season.

“The guys are antsy,” Barry said. “They want to play. They’ve been preparing all season and they and now have a whole month of practice. The more preparation we can do, the more confidence we can feel going into a game, but for the guys, practice can get old and they want to play somebody else.”

Watauga is still without returning seniors Anderson Castle and Jaiden Bond, who were playing on the Watauga football team in the second round of the state 3-AA playoffs against Mount Tabor on Nov. 29.

Watauga brings four seniors and five juniors to the floor against Ashbrook. The Pioneers are also not a towering team, but have two players — Ben Ricker and Jonah Martin — who each stand 6-foot-5. Three other players — Tyler Ward, Jackson Earnhardt and James Privette — stand 6-3.

Barry would like to use the Pioneers’ height to not just post up defenders inside, but to also set up jump shots after getting the ball from post players.

“We want to share the ball a lot,” Barry said. “Our offense is going to go through the paint or off the bounce with our guards attacking. We want easy buckets inside. We’re going to be expected to score in there and we’re going to be expected to rebound. Are we going to pound it inside on every possession? No. Do we want them to be capable scorers? Yes.”

Ashbrook goes into the game with an 0-1 record after losing to Lake Norman Charter 84-62. Senior guard Takim Bone led the Greenway with 17 points. He also pulled down seven rebounds.

Point guard Shemar Adams added 11 points and 6-5 center James Dotson added 10 points.

Barry said she has not settled on a starting lineup yet. She said playing as a team will be important to the Pioneers’ success.”

“We’ve had a lot of good competition,” Barry said. “We’ve got 12 guys practicing on the varsity and missing two obvious ones from football. It’s been really competitive. We’re looking for consistency for whoever is going to play.”

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