BOONE — It seemed unlikely that the Watauga boys’ basketball team would be anywhere close to gaining a win over visiting East Surry at Lentz-Eggers Gym.
But Watauga, after falling behind by 15 points in the second quarter, worked its way back into contention the rest of the game. East Surry had enough offense to beat the Pioneers 67-66 after surviving Watauga’s chance to grab the win with less than a minute left in the game.
East Surry never trailed, but Watauga had a chance to win the game with less than 15.9 seconds left after East Surry’s Landon Stevens made one of his two free throw attempts, which gave the Cardinals a 67-64 lead.
Watauga’s Andrew Freeman had an open lane to the basket and hit a layup to pull the Pioneers to 67-66, but Freeman did not make the shot with enough time on the clock for the Pioneers to get the ball back, and time expired.
“Give them credit, they didn’t quit,” East Surry coach Martin Behrens said. “They executed a little better and hit some big shots and defensively, we didn’t find shooters well enough.”
After a first quarter that saw East Surry take a 12-5 lead, Watauga outscored the Cardinals 30-25 in the fourth quarter.
“It was a good effort down the stretch,” Watauga coach Laura Barry said. “The five guys on the court wanted to win and we had a little offensive and defensive rotation. We got a lot of scoring in the fourth quarter and the sad part about that was that we didn’t get the defensive stops to go with it.”
Watauga (6-9) lost its third straight game after winning two in a row. East Surry (8-4), which won its third straight game, got off to a late start in its season after the Cardinals’ football team won the state 1-AA championship with a 15-0 record. All of the 10 East Surry players who made the trip to Boone to play the Pioneers played on the Cardinals’ football team.
Dillon Mosley, who led the Cardinals with 23 points, hit all five of East Surry’s 3-point baskets. Stevens and Quincy Smith each scored 14 points and 6-foot-7 Jefferson Boaz, who signed a letter of intent to play at North Carolina, added 10 points. Boaz, who quarterbacked the Cardinals’ football team, dished out several assists against the Pioneers.
Barry felt Watauga’s inside defense, led by Watauga post player Tyler Ward, kept Boaz in check, but his size helped him find teammates cutting to the basket.
“He can see over the guy who is guarding him,” Barry said. “Not to take away from his passing ability, but we had trouble when we tried to go zone because he was able to see over our hands and our traps. He’s a force because of his size, but I thought we did a good job on him in the post for the most part.”
Anderson Castle, who led Watauga’s football team to a 14-1 record and a berth in the 3-AA Western Regional championship game, scored 18 points to lead the Pioneers in scoring against East Surry.
Freeman scored 12 points, Jaiden Bond scored nine points and Holden Perry chipped in eight points for the Pioneers. Watauga did not help itself by making just 13-of-21 foul shots in the game.
East Surry boys 67, Watauga 66
East Surry 67 (8-4)
Mosley 8 2-2 23, Stevens 4 6-8 14, Boaz 3 4-6 10, Needham 1 0-0 2, Gosnell 2 0-0 4, Jessup 0 0-0 0, Gammons 0 0-0 0, Suterby 0 0-0 0, Smith 6 2-6 14, Hiatt 0 0-0 0, Bullington 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 14-22 67.
Watauga 66 (6-9)
Bond 2 5-6 9, Freeman 4 3-3 12, Sears 1 0-0 3, Castle 8 0-2 18, Perry 2 3-4 8, Ricker 0 1-2 1, Earnhardt 1 0-2 3, Robbins 2 0-0 4, Ward 2 0-4 4, Privette 1 1-2 3, Greer 0 0-0 0, Martin 0 0-0 0, Hale 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 13-21 66.
East Surry 12 22 8 25 — 67
Watauga 5 19 12 30 — 66
3-point goals—East Surry 5 (Mosley 5), Watauga 7 (Freeman 2, Castle 2, Sears, Perry, Earnhardt). Total fouls—East Surry 15, Watauga 17. Fouled out—None. Technical fouls—None.