By David Rogers. November 28, 2017. WILKESBORO, NC — Watauga women’s basketball team came up short in Tuesday night’s season opener at Wilkes Central, losing to the Eagles, 58-47.
Wilkes Central center/forward Malaya Cowles, a 6-3 freshman, fouled out with 7:13 remaining in the game, but not before a dominant performance inside (and sometimes outside) the paint. The Eagles’ power forward frequently demonstrated her athleticism, punctuating it at one point by a near full court dribble and shoot, mostly uncontested.
Although Cowles had just nine points on the night, much of her contributions came in rebounding on both ends and distributing possession to awaiting teammates.
Foremost among the beneficiaries: guard Erica Wyatt, who stretched the nets for a game-high 22 points. She had five 3-pointers, accounting for 15 of those 22 points, but the first two of those came in the first quarter before Watauga barely had its motor running.
WCHS guard Lacey Triplett added eight points for the Eagles.
To their credit, Watauga’s Pioneers fought hard throughout the game but could not overcome the Eagle’s height advantage or Wyatt’s hot hand behind the arc. Typical of the Laura Barry-coached Pioneers, Watauga was pesky on defense with numerous steals and other disruptions if the Eagles’ offensive flow, but on this night was mostly unable to capitalize on Wilkes Central turnovers.
Perhaps the best move of the night was attacking Cowles, who fouled out without even a minute gone. The slump in Eagle scoring productivity was immediate and noticeable. After scoring 18 points with Cowles on the court in the third quarter, with her gone for almost the entire final period, the Eagles managed only eight points in the fourth quarter, while the Pioneers cut into the lead with 13.
Brooke Byrd recorded a team-high 13 points for the Pioneers, while Madie Darner contributed 11 and Rebekah Farthing, 10. Junior guard Cailey Haas came off the bench to put nine points through the hoop for Watauga.
Watauga hosts Ashe County on Friday. The action starts with the junior varsity women’s game at 4:00 pm, followed by junior varsity men, varsity women, and varsity men, successively.