Earnhardt drives to the basket

Watauga’s Jackson Earnhardt drives to the basket against McDowell’s Jandon Robbins (10) and Zalon Bianchini (35).

BOONE — Watauga needed until the second quarter to find its rhythm offensively against visiting McDowell at Lentz-Eggers Gym on Jan.15.

Watauga reversed a 10-point deficit by closing the second quarter with a 16-3 run and used it to beat the Titans in the Northwestern Conference showdown 79-64. The Pioneers (5-6, 2-1) snapped a three-game losing streak by making 10 3-point shots and by turning a 29-19 second quarter deficit into a 37-32 halftime lead.

“In the first quarter we weren’t rebounding and we knew where McDowell was strong,” Watauga coach Laura Barry said. “We kind of had to eat those minutes and move on.

Watauga had to face McDowell (6-6, 1-2 NWC) without point guard Jaiden Bond, who missed the game because of a sore back injury. The Pioneers were able to carry on without Bond by getting double-figures scoring from three players.

Jackson Earnhardt led the Pioneers in scoring with 22 points with help from four 3-point baskets. Anderson Castle followed his 30-point performance at Alexander Central on Jan. 3 by scoring 20 against McDowell.

Castle, who scored 28 points in the first half against Alexander Central, scored 16 points in the first half against McDowell. Andrew Freeman added 11 points to the Pioneers’ totals. Jake Sears chipped in nine points on a trio of 3-point baskets.

Barry felt the Pioneers lost some aggressiveness, even though Watauga made three 3-point baskets in the second quarter. Earnhardt made two foul shots and Luke Robbins and Freeman both reached the foul line, while Watauga did not get to the free throw line in the first or third quarters.

“He took some threes and he made them,” Barry said of Castle. “I thought as a team we were settling for threes and driving the lane. We reminded them we had to get back to that getting to the rim and getting in there a little harder.”

McDowell got 18 points from Mason McPeters and Trent Lewis chipped in 16 points.

Watauga went on a 15-9 lead in the third quarter that gave the Titans a 47-46 lead, but a Sears 3-pointer gave the Pioneers a 55-52 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Watauga outscored McDowell 24-12 in the fourth quarter, including 13-1 in the final three minutes of the game. Earnhardt sparked the Pioneers in the fourth quarter by scoring 11 points and 17 second-half points.

“He knows when he’s loose and open,” Barry said. “He’s got the green light to fire. Even early he missed a couple, but he’s going to keep shooting. I was proud of him getting to the rim.”

McDowell JVs 47, Watauga 46

BOONE — Watauga’s rally fell short in a 47-46 loss to McDowell in junior varsity boys’ basketball Jan. 8.

Watauga went into the fourth quarter trailing 40-35, but opened the quarter with a 4-0 mini-run. Neither team led by more than two points the rest of the game, but McDowell managed to take a 47-45 lead with 28.5 left in the game.

Drew Wilcox scored his five points in the fourth quarter, while Josiah Romanus scored three points in the fourth quarter and nine overall after making a 3 point shot in the second quarter and another one in the third.

Grant Morrison led the Pioneers in scoring with 12 points.

Watauga varsity boys 79,

McDowell 64

McDowell 64 (6-6, 1-2)

Queen 5 1-2 12, Robbins 1 0-0 2, Effler 1 0-0 2, Ramirez 1 0-0 2, McPeters 7 4-7 18, Harrison 0 0-2 0, Bianchini 1 2-2 4, Handy 1 0-0 2, Davis 1 0-0 3, Lewis 7 3-5 16, Moore 0 0-0 0, Daniels 0 0-0 0, Allison 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 10-17 54

Watauga 79 (5-6, 2-1)

Freeman 5 1-3 11, Sears 3 0-0 9, Castle 8 1-2 20, Perry 1 0-0 2, Ricker 3 0-0 6, Earnhardt 6 6-6 22, Robbins 1 1-2 3, Martin 2 0-1 4, Privette 1 0-0 2, Hale 0 0-0 0, Greer 0 0-0 0. Totals 30 9-13 79.

McDowell 18 14 20 12 — 64

Watauga 12 25 18 24 — 79

3-point goals—McDowell 4 (Queen 2, Davis, Lewis), Watauga 10 (Earnhardt 4, Castle 3, Sears 3). Total fouls—McDowell 17, Watauga 18. Fouled out—None. Technical fouls—None.

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