By David Rogers. January 9, 2018. HICKORY, NC — Stifling defense and strong rebounding powered Watauga past Hickory Tuesday night in David Craft Gymnasium, 51-33, erasing more than a quarter century of futility.
COVER IMAGE: Maddisen Robinson (15) attacks the rim for the Pioneers. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
History meant very little to the the Lady Pioneers. The last time Watauga women’s basketball defeated Hickory in the Red Tornadoes’ home gym was in 1991, but it was almost a full decade later that this group of High Country athletes even became a figment of their parents’ respective imaginations.
Sophomore guards Brooke Byrd (5) and Rebekah Farthing (4) joined senior Madie Darner (3) in accounting for all twelve of the Pioneers’ first quarter points while putting a lid on the Red Tornadoes’ offensive effort, holding their hosts to just eight.
From that point on, Watauga didn’t just lead, but after outscoring Hickory 14-3 in the third quarter alone they kept their pedals to the metal in the 4th period, too, outpointing the Red Tornadoes 18-14 in that final stanza.
Darner posted a game-high 18 points, including two 3-pointers and 4-of-6 success from the charity stripe. Two more Pioneers joined her in double figures, Byrd with 14 (2-of-3 from the foul line) and power forward Parris Bolick with 11, all of which were tallied in the second half.
Hickory’s biggest scoring threat, predictably, was 6-4 sophomore center Shelby Darden. She finished the contest with 10 points, while freshman small forward Finley Lafevers recorded a team-high 11.
Farthing and Byrd are both varsity track and field performers for Watauga, competing in the long jump, triple jump and high jump, as well as some middle distance running events. That leaping ability came in handy against the overall taller Red Tornadoes, especially vs. Darden, who got more than her share of rebounds. But the Pioneers’ aggressiveness in boxing out and jumping high for the ball evened things out under the basket for Watauga.
Among the biggest games of the still-young 2017-18 season is on Watauga’s schedule on Friday, as the Pioneers (4-0 in Northwestern Conference, 10-2 overall) travel to Morganton to take on regional powerhouse, Freedom (5-0, 11-3).
When Blowing Rock News asked whether the blowout of Hickory gave them some confidence and momentum going into their next matchup against the Patriots, Darner, Byrd and Farthing broke into big smiles, nodding their heads enthusiastically.
“Tonight’s game is behind us,” Farthing said. “We aren’t thinking about it anymore. We want Freedom.”
- 18 – Madie Darner (4-of-6 from the free throw line)
- 14 – Brooke Byrd (2-3)
- 11 – Parris Bolick (3-7)
- 6 – Rebekah Farthing (6-6)
- 2 – Cailey Haas (2-7)
- 11 – Finley Lafevers (1-1)
- 10 – Shelby Darden (0-0)
- 5 – Mikayla Hill (1-4)
- 4 – Kayla Soublet (2-2)
- 2 – Leah Knowles (0-0)
- 1 – Mason Paradine (1-2)