By David Rogers. November 28, 2017. WILKESBORO (Moravian Falls), NC — A cold-shooting performance in the second quarter was Watauga’s undoing Tuesday night and they could never quite recover against host Wilkes Central, losing 70-66 in a game that wasn’t decided until the very end.
The Pioneers began the second stanza with a 19-18 lead, but their hot hands chilled. The Eagles outpointed Watauga 15-4 in the second period to take a 33-23 lead into intermission.
Alex Marinakis and Bryant Greene combined for 17 points in the third quarter, Marinakis hitting a trio of 3-pointers to account for nine of his 11 points in the period, while Greene’s driving down the lane drew WCHS fouls that put him on the charity stripe, where he was a perfect 4-for-4 in the third period. That pulled the Pioneers to within 7, at 53-46.
Watauga continued what evolved as a 15-3 run into the final quarter, a scoring surge that twice brought the Pioneers to within two points of tying the game, the deficit at 53-51 with 7:01 remaining and 54-52 at the 5:46 mark.
With just a little more than a minute remaining and the Eagles clinging to a 64-61 lead, a near-brawl erupted when WC’s guard Ahmad Osborne took exception to a foul and came out of the scrum swinging. He was quickly pulled off the court by head coach Matt Hagaman, who marched him straight to the bench before the referees could eject him. The heated moment got hotter as the scuffling continued on court even after the primary perpetrator had been whisked away. It didn’t help that the WCHS student section began applauding Osborne as he took his seat on the bench. A few of the Watauga students jumped from the stands and onto the court, but cooler heads prevailed and uniformed law enforcement officers walked the length of the court to establish a presence in front of the now retreating students.
There was a dizzying array of whistles blown and fouls called during the melee, but when all was said and done, Wilkes was flagged for two technicals, while the Pioneers were assessed one technical and the originating (regular) foul. The official cross-checked the Watauga technical and one of the WC technicals, leaving only the Wilkes foul shots from the original foul before Watauga’s 1-and-1 technical shot.
Guard Caleb Killian scored a total of 13 points on the night for the Eagles, so there was a high probability that he would convert his two free throws when he went to the line. If made, they would give Wilkes Central a 5-point, 66-61 lead, but both clanged off the rim and to the floor, swelling the hopes of the enthusiastic Watauga faithful cramming the visitors’ grandstands.
Those hopes grew even louder when Pioneer guard Bryant Greene sank his two free throws for the Wilkes technical because it shrank the Eagle advantage to just a single point, 64-63. Plus, Watauga got possession.
Like so many other times during the night, Watauga turned the ball over. Later the Pioneers pulled to within two points again at 68-66 on a Marinakis 3-pointer, but only 11 seconds remained and the Eagles had the ball. Desperate to get the ball back, the Pioneers fouled, sending Osborne to the charity stripe where he sank his two free throws for the games final points.
For Wilkes Central, guard Noah Johnson shot a game-high 24 points, with power forward Levi Church not far behind with 21
The Pioneers look to rebound on Friday when they host Ashe County at Lentz-Eggers Gym. The game is scheduled for 8:00 pm, pending the timely finishes of the junior varsity women at 4:00, followed successively by the junior varsity men and the varsity women before the varsity men take to the court.