Watauga faces West Rowan

Watauga's Rebekah Farthing drives on Freedom defender Blaikley Crooks in the NWC tournament championship game. Farthing leads Watauga into the first round of the state 3-A championship game against West Rowan.

CHAPEL HILL — The Watauga girls’ basketball team plays its first state 3-A playoff game at West Rowan on Feb. 25.

The time of the game has not been announced. The Pioneers finished the season with a 17-8 overall record and are the No. 19 seed in the NCHSAA Western 3-A Bracket. West Rowan (20-5) is seeded 14th.

Watauga reached the finals of the Northwestern Conference Tournament, but lost to Freedom in the finals Feb. 22 at McDowell High School. Freedom (25-0) is the No. 1 seed in the 3-A western bracket and hosts South Iredell (10-13).

West Rowan finished 7-3 and in a tie with East Rowan for second place in the North Piedmont Conference. The Falcons are coached by Ashley Pool and earned the NPCs second seed in the state playoffs by beating West Rowan in the semifinals of the league’s conference tournament, but lost to league champ Jesse Carson 54-52 in the NPC tournament finals.

Watauga may have to go into its game with West Rowan shorthanded. Four-year starter Brooke Byrd injured her ankle against Freedom in the first quarter of their game Feb. 22. She left the game, returned briefly in the second quarter, but left again and did not return.

Byrd averages 11.5 points per game and is second in scoring to fellow senior Rebekah Farthing, who averages 12.0 points. Watauga’s other double-figures scorer is junior Chelsi Hodges, who chips in 10.2 points each game.

Watauga finished third in the NWC to Freedom and Hickory, but beat second-seeded Hickory in the semifinals of the conference tournament.

The Falcons average 57 points and 28 rebounds per game. Abigail Wilson, who stands 5-foot-11, leads West Rowan in scoring with 26.3 points per game and also pulls down 11.5 rebounds per game.

A big part of Wilson’s game is her shooting. She shoots 54 percent from the field and 47 percent from the 3-point line. She also makes 74 percent of her foul shots.

The NWC sent four teams to the 3-A western regional. Hickory (19-6) is an 11th seed and hosts 22nd-seeded East Rowan. Alexander Central (12-13) received a 28th seed and plays at No. 5-seeded Enka.

McDowell (12-12), the highest finishing 4-A team in the NWC, is seeded sixth and has a bye in the first round. South Caldwell (11-12), the other 4-A team in the NWC, is the 21st seed in the bracket and plays at No. 12-seeded North Mecklenburg (18-7).

Ashe County (19-6), seeded eighth in the 2-A western bracket, hosts No. 25 seeded North Wilkes (14-11).

Avery County (5-19), seeded 24th in the 1-A western bracket, plays at fifth-seeded Gray Stone Day (23-1).

The Watauga boys’ team did not make the state basketball playoffs. Freedom (24-1), the NWC regular-season and tournament champions received a No. 3 seed in the western 3-A bracket. The Patriots host Asheboro (13-12), the No. 30th seed.

Hickory (20-5), the 11th seeded team, hosts 22nd-seeded Southwest Guilford (12-13). Alexander Central (16-11) received a 24th seed and plays at Ben L. Smith 16-11), the No. 9-seeded team.

McDowell (10-13-0) the 24th-seed in the 4-A bracket, plays at No. 9 Grimsley (16-7).

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