Passing the ball

Passing the ball

Watauga’s Brooke Byrd passes the ball against three South Caldwell defenders.

BOONE — Some basketball teams take large early leads and then lose them later in the game.

The Watauga girls’ basketball team was not one of those teams at Lentz-Eggers Gym on Feb. 18. The Pioneers took a 14-point lead in the first half and used it to beat visiting South Caldwell 62-45 in the first round of the Northwestern Conference Girls’ Basketball Tournament.

Watauga head coach Laura Barry, who coaches the Watauga girls’ and Watauga boys’ team, was in Taylorsville with the boys’ team. Junior varsity coach Kalie Eppley was the girls’ lead coach against South Caldwell and picked up her first varsity victory as a head coach.

“It was a lot of fun, but I definitely wish that coach Barry was here,” Eppley said. “We were glad to support her though in making that decision and glad we got a win for her tonight.”

Watauga (16-7, 8-4 NWC), seeded third in the tournament, bolted out to a 17-3 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Pioneers got five points each from Brooke Byrd and Chelsi Hodges and four more from Rebekah Farthing in the first period. Brelyn Sturgill added a 3-point basket to fatten the Pioneers’ lead.

South Caldwell (11-12, 3-9 NWC), seeded sixth in the tournament, could never catch up. The Spartans trailed 30-12 before a three-point play scored by Kaitlyn Propst before the end of the second quarter left South Caldwell behind 30-15 at halftime. Hodges scored 20 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. She also scored at least one field goal in each quarter.

Rebekah Farthing finished with 14 points and Sturgill finished with 11 points Tara Lipford, on three 3-point baskets, finished with nine points.

Farthing made several contributions defensively, rebounding and offensively from the point guard position.

“Farthing was huge tonight as she is every night,” Eppley said. “Her composure on the offensive end, her deflections and steals on the defensive end, we couldn’t do it without her.”

South Caldwell pulled to within 40-29 in the third quarter, but Watauga answered with a 7-2 mini-run capped by a Sturgill 3-point basket that left Watauga in front 47-31 going into the fourth quarter.

South Caldwell made one final lunge at Watauga by trailing 49-40, but Watauga countered with a 13-3 run capped by a three-point Hodges play that gave Watauga a 63-45 lead.

“When you look back on this whole season against McDowell and against Watauga and Hickory and Alexander, I look at the losses we took, it’s usually one quarter that would separate us,” South Caldwell coach Jeff Parham said. You can’t dig a hole against a team like that with the players they have.”

“He is a great coach,” Eppley said. “They made some great adjustments in the second half and they made a run, but our defense was unbeatable tonight. Our girls played with a lot of heart and played with a lot of effort.”

Watauga girls 62, South Caldwell 45

South Caldwell 45 (11-12, 3-9)

Propst 3 2-2 10, Miller 4 4-6 12, Anderson 0 2-2 2, T. Austin 0 2-4 2, Huggins 4 0-0 8, Wynn 2 1-3 5, Curtis 3 0-0 6, A. Cline 0 0-0 0, Phillips 0 0-0 0, S. Austin 0 0-0 0, Dorsey 0 0-0 0, S. Austin 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 11-17 45.

Watauga 62 (16-7, 8-4)

Byrd 2 0-1 5, Sturgill 4 1-2 11, R. Farthing 5 4-6 14, C. Farthing 1 0-0 3, Lipford 3 0-0 9, Hodges 8 4-5 20, Reece 0 0-0 0, Ward 0 0-0 0, Keller 0 0-0 0, Williamson 0 0-0 0, Lubsen 0 0-0 0, Scheffler 0 0-0 0, Pruess 0 0-0 0, Coffey 0 0-0 0. Total 22 9-14 62.

South Caldwell 3 12 16 14 — 45

Watauga 17 13 17 15 — 62

3-point goals—South Caldwell 2 (Propst 2), Watauga 7 (Lipford 3, Sturgill 2, C. Farthing, Byrd). Total fouls—South Caldwell 11, Watauga 16. Fouled out—None. Technical fouls—None.

Alexander Central boys 60, Watauga 36

TAYLORSVILLE — The Watauga boys’ basketball team got off to a slow start and never recovered in a 60-36 loss to Alexander Central in the first round of the Northwestern Conference Tournament on Feb. 18.

The Pioneers (7-16), seeded sixth in the tournament, fell behind 32-15 by halftime. Alexander Central, seeded third, added an 18-6 advantage in the third quarter to successfully bury the Pioneers.

Jackson Earnhardt led Watauga in scoring with 11 points and Andrew Freeman finished with seven. Anderson Castle, who scored 30 points, with the help of eight three pointers in the first half the last time he played in Taylorsville, was limited to four points.

Evan Presnell led Alexander Central (16-10) in scoring with 15 points. Jem Lowrance scored 23 points and Zach Herman added eight points.

Alexander Central knocked off second-seeded Hickory 48-44 in the semifinals of the tournament.

Alexander Central 60, Watauga 36

Watauga 36 (7-16)

Earnhardt 3-10 2-2 11, Hale 1-2 0-0 2, Privette 0-1 0-2 0, Castle 2-8 0-0 4, Perry 0-1 0-0 0, Freeman 3-7 1-2 7, Sears 1-7 0-0 3, Greer 1-3 1-2 3, Robbins 2-4 2-3 6, Martin 0-0 0-0 0, Ward 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 13-44 5-9 36.

Alexander Central 60 (15-10)

Lowrance 6-17 0-0 12, Kerley 4-6 0-0 8, Wooten 2-2 0-0 6, Stikeleather 1-4 0-0 2, Presnell 6-9 0-0 15, Abernathy 0-0 0-0 0, Chapman 0-0 0-0 0, Layne 0-0 0-0 0, Herman 3-5 2-4 8, G. Lowrance 2-4 0-0 4, Avery Cook 2-4 0-0 5, Hubbard 0-0 0-0 0. Total 26-51 2-4 60.

Watauga 9 6 6 15 — 36

Alexander Central 15 17 18 10 — 60

3-point goals—Watauga 5-25 (Earnhardt 3-9, Greer 1-2, Sears 1-7, Perry 0-1, Robbins 1-2, Freeman 0-2), Alex Central 6-12 (Presnell 3-4, Wooten 2-2, Cook 1-2, G. Lowrance 0-2, J. Lowrance 0-2). Rebounding—Watauga 21 (Earnhardt, Privette 4), Alex Central 39 (J. Lowrance 9). Assists—Watauga 11 (Freeman 3), Alex. Central 20 (Stikeleather 5). Total fouls—Watauga 21, Alex Cent 11. Fouled out—None. Technical fouls—None. Att.—321.

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