By Taylor Welsh. February 20, 2018. BOONE, NC — Watauga’s head coach Laura Barry described the first round of the North Carolina high school state playoffs as “the hardest game of the season,” but when the Pioneers faced off against Statesville in Lentz-Eggers Stadium Tuesday night it was quite the opposite: a relatively easy 71-35 first round win.
COVER IMAGE: Maddisen Robinson finishes this drive with a finger roll at the rim. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
Watauga didn’t just get out to a quick start, they conquered their first round playoff opponent with a stealthy half-court defense that prevented Statesville from scoring its first field goal of the game until the 2:44 mark of the second quarter. Meanwhile, Watauga complimented it’s dominant defense with stellar rebounding and aggressive offensive transitions that sailed the home team to a 30-1 opening advantage, shocking the No. 24-seeded Greyhounds before they could bat an eye.
“I think the way we came out was a little stunning to them, but I didn’t even look at the scoreboard at the beginning,” Barry said. “It felt like they were getting shots, so for me that’s just as much as a point. Very proud of how our team came out.”
During the 30-1 landslide run, the Pioneers forced six turnovers and were the beneficiary of four additional unforced errors, taking advantage of the initial sloppy play and capitalizing on each extra possession.
And just like that, after Watauga’s senior shooting guard Madie Darner wrestled down a defensive rebound and went coast-to-coast, finishing the play with a contested layup at the other side of the court for her 7th and 8th points of the night, the Pioneers jumped to one of the biggest runs they’ve had all season, 30-1, with 3:34 to go in the second quarter. Darner finished the half with eight points and three rebounds while teammate Rebekah Farthing nearly outscored the Pioneers’ opponents with a game-high 10 points in the first half.
“We had a little lapse at the end of the second quarter and I felt as if we didn’t play good defense in the second half, but we had done our job to get us to enough separation,” Barry said.
With a 21-point lead at half, the Pioneers made up for their lack of focus on the defensive end by continually piling up the points on Statesville, offering their guests not even a glimmer of hope and dampening the Greyhounds’ morale. By mid-third quarter, Watauga boosted its lead to 43-18.
Then, with Statesville running around the court like a mouse lost in a maze trying to find the block of cheese, Watauga’s Maddisen Robinson demonstrated some razzle-dazzle, finishing at the rim with a finger roll that would make former San Antonio Spurs George Gervin nod his head in approval.
After that, Statesville’s energy slowly dissipated, the Greyhunds’ season coming to an end little by little until the damage was officially done.
Led by Farthing’s 16 points and six rebounds, the Lady Pioneers defeated Statesville, 71-38, and with the win advancing to the second round of the 3A NCHSAA Women’s State Championship playoffs.
Watauga point guard Cailey Haas led the Pioneer bench with 13 points, three rebounds and three assists while leading the team with four steals.
Teammate Brooke Byrd also finished with 13 points and nabbed seven rebounds and one steal Tuesday night. Parris Bolick dominated the boards, totaling nine rebounds while scoring seven points and tallying three steals.
Along with her finger roll, Robinson collected a total of five points to compliment her five assists and three rebounds. And sophomore guard Taylor Lipford rounded out the night for Watauga with two points.
For the second round of the state tournament, Watauga will travel to 8th-seeded Cuthbertson in Waxhaw on Thursday, with tipoff slated for 6:00 pm.
The Cavaliers rallied to defeat Piedmont, 51-43, in overtime Tuesday night, in their home first round match. Although Piedmont led 24-11 at halftime, Cuthbertson outpointed the Panthers 27-14 in the second half to force OT.
Cuthbertson finished atop the Southern Carolina 3A Conference standings during the regular season with a 12-2 league mark and 20-5 overall. The strong Southern Carolina Conference includes Parkwood, Charlotte Catholic, Piedmont, Marvin Ridge, Weddington, Monroe and Sun Valley.
Watauga’s overall record now stands at 22-4 overall for the season.
- 13- Tyaysia Sharpe
- 8 – Lauren Privette
- 7 – Danasia Gray
- 4 – Hannah Hoffman
- 16 – Rebekah Farthing (free throws: 10-10)
- 15 – Madie Darner
- 13 – Cailey Haas
- 13 – Brooke Byrd
- 7 – Parris Bolick
- 5 – Maddisen Robinson
- 2 – Taylor Lipford
Edited by David Rogers