Pioneer men play inspired hoops, but fall to Indians, 61-59

Pioneer men play inspired hoops, but fall to Indians, 61-59
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By David Rogers. January 27, 2018. BOONE, NC — After the dust had settled on Hickory-St. Stephens’ nailbiter of a 61-59 men’s basketball win over Watauga at Lentz-Eggers gym Saturday afternoon, the Indians’ head coach Murphy Post was asked by Blowing Rock News if he might be thankful that he got Watauga for the Pioneers’ fourth game in a five-day period. Perhaps a master of understatement, he smiled and said, “I think that might have worked out in our favor.”

Blowing Rock News coverage of Watauga High School men’s athletics is made possible by a sponsorship from New River Building & Lumber Company

Fatigue was obvious in the legs and reflexes of the Pioneer athletes, especially in a first quarter that saw St. Stephens jump out to a 20-8 lead.  Add to that: the Pioneers’ leading offensive threat in senior guard Bryant Greene is still recovering from the same flu that has wreaked havoc among whole populations across the nation. During this 4-games in five days stretch, he played limited minutes Tuesday night, missed Wednesday altogether, and was not entirely his regular self on either Friday or Saturday.

I think that might have worked out in our favor.

Zach West looks to get around Indian defender

But adversity often produces inspired performances.  Led by senior guard Alex Marinakis’ 12 points in the second quarter alone, the Pioneers outscored St. Stephens 21-11 in the second stanza to trail by just two at intermission, 31-29. With momentum, the High Country’s favorite sons wowed the partisan crowd with a 16-13 performance in the third stanza that gave them a remarkable, if still tenuous 45-44 lead after three quarters.

Unfortunately, that valiant comeback pretty much expended all the fuel in the Pioneer tank. The St. Stephens quartet of Luther Scott, Teavius Henry, Drew Cline, and Hunter Pyatte combined for the lion’s share (15) of the visitors’ points in the fourth quarter vs. just 14 by the Pioneers (nine of those from Greene).

A taller, very athletic St. Stephens side did a good job of rebounding for the visitors.

It could be argued that a foul should have been called against St. Stephens for brutalizing Greene as he drove to the basket with time expiring. That would have put him on the line with either a one-for-one or maybe even two shots guaranteed from the charity stripe and a chance to tie the game and send it into overtime. But, as Pioneer head coach Rob Sanders admitted later, “It was close.”

Greene and Marinakis tied for game-high honors with 16 points apiece.  The athletic St. Stephens side was led by Luther Scott’s 15 points, Drew Cline’s 13, and Hunter Pyatte’s 12.

Sometimes it takes an acrobat to get to the basket.

As it was, Saturday’s game concluded a terrific week of high school basketball.  While the women’s team swept all four in convincing fashion to remain undefeated in Northwestern Conference play, the men’s team opened the week with a convincing, if not dominant win over Alexander Central (54-40), before an overtime victory over West Caldwell at home (78-76), and heartbreaker losses to McDowell (75-71) and St. Stephens (61-59).

Revenge may be on the minds of the Pioneers on Tuesday when they travel to Hickory where they hope to return the favor to St. Stephens. Then they close out the regular season schedule with four games during the next nine days, at South Caldwell (February 1st), at home vs. Hickory (February 2nd) and Freedom (February 6th), then at West Caldwell on February 9th.

SCORING

St. Stephens

  • 15 — Luther Scott
  • 13 — Drew Cline
  • 12 — Hunter Pyatte
  • 8 — Teavius Henry
  • 6 — Ha’Mourii Joyner-McCorkle
  • 5 — Justin Bullock
  • 3 — Carter Powell
  • 2 — Ezequiel Figueroa Del Valle

Watauga

  • 16 — Bryant Greene
  • 16 — Alex Marinakis
  • 12 — Hayes Henderson
  • 6 — Alex McConnell
  • 4 — Jaidon Bond
  • 3 — Jonathan McClennon
  • 2 — Zach West

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