Pioneers downsize Titans, 66-41

Pioneers downsize Titans, 66-41
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Madie Darner (30) had a team high 16 points , hitting from outside as well as muscling it up inside.

By David Rogers. January 3, 2018. BOONE, NC — Whether she drank some kind of Super Kool-Aid during halftime intermission or was upset for  having to sit on the bench much of the first half with two fouls, who’s to say?

COVER IMAGE: Parris Bolick goes up for two against McDowell. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News.

But say this: Watauga senior power forward Parris Bolick (from Blowing Rock) played the third quarter of Wednesday night’s basketball game against visiting McDowell with a chip on her shoulder.  Her strong inside play led to 10 points in the second half, igniting the Pioneers’ scoring machine and high pressure defensive effort en route to a convincing, 66-41 Northwestern Conference victory.

Rebekah Farthing (5) “only” scored six points on the night, but was an effective playmaker in distributing the ball as the Titans often had her well-defended and double-teamed.

With the win, Watauga remains in a tie for first place in the conference with Morganton’s Freedom High School with a 3-0 conference record.  Freedom thumped West Caldwell, 75-31, in Tuesday night’s action.

At Lentz-Eggers Gym on Wednesday, Watauga led from the start, but McDowell kept it reasonably close for the first two periods thanks to the scoring prowess of junior guard Dezi Williams’ six points and senior forward Hayley Creasman’s five points before intermission.

Watauga clung to a tenuous 22-17 lead after two quarters, with senior shooting guard Madie Darner (six points), senior point guard Maddisen Robinson (five points), both starters, leading the way and junior point guard Cailey Haas coming off the bench to contribute five more points of first half fire power.

Once a Pioneer, always a Pioneer. From left to right, Alden McClure, Katherine Stapleton, and Olivia Williamson were getting a last look at their former team before heading back to complete freshman years in college.

But it was Bolick’s eight points from underneath in Q3 and her rough-and-tumble rebounding that pushed the Pioneers, outscoring the Titans 24-12 in that critical third period and jumping out to a 46-29 lead. The 17-point advantage proved just the beginning, as the Pioneers outpointed McDowell 20-12 in the final stanza, expanding the lead to its final 66-41 margin with a good number of reserves seeing court time.

Four Pioneers finished in double figures, led by Darner’s 16 points, and a trio with 10 apiece: Brooke Byrd, Robinson, and Bolick. Haas added eight points as the proverbial “6th Man”, the first player off the bench.

Brooke “Eagle Eye” Byrd sees the objective!

Afterwards, head coach Laura Barry pointed out to reporters that Robinson is beginning to hit her stride, offensively, and that Haas is somewhat of a hidden gem for the Pioneers.

“Maddisen is (finding her groove),” Barry smiled. “She is so strong on defense and sometimes we forget that she is such an offensive threat, too.  And I don’t think there are very many teams with a #6 coming off the bench like Haas.  She would be starting for most.”

After a steal, Haas on a breakaway.

Byrd, Darner, and Farthing dominate Pioneer scoring in many games, but on this night Watauga’s offensive effort was balanced, perhaps reflecting the attention that the lead scorers received from McDowell’s defensive effort.  Eight Watauga players found the scoring column Wednesday night:

  • 16 – Madie Darner
  • 10 – Brooke Byrd
  • 10 – Maddisen Robinson
  • 10 – Parris Bolick
  • 8 – Cailey Haas
  • 6 – Rebekah Farthing
  • 4 – Paige Bolick
  • 2 – Molly Ward
Robinson (15) is flying high after this basket dropped.

Watauga (9-2 overall) looks to protect its undefeated record (3-0) in Northwestern Conference play on Friday when the Pioneers host the Indians of Hickory-St. Stephens (8-4 overall, 1-2 in NWC). The Indians tripped up Alexander Central 51-37 on Tuesday, in Taylorsville.

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