Pioneers win 15th in row, in 69-40 trip past Indians

Pioneers win 15th in row, in 69-40 trip past Indians
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Rebekah Farthing (right) reaches for rebound

By David Rogers January 27, 2018. BOONE, NC — For the second game in a row, Madie Darner (25 points) and Maddisen Robinson (12) proved Watauga’s big offensive weapons, even if it was the team’s tenacious defense that again won the day in the Pioneers’ decisive win over St. Stephens on Saturday at Lentz Eggers Gym, 69-40.

There may be a warrant out for the arrest of sophomore shooting guard Brooke Byrd for grand larceny.  At times it seemed as if on every St. Stephens possession, the lanky, but lightening quick Byrd was poaching the ball from an Indians player or pulling down an improbable rebound and starting a fast break up the court.  She may have only accounted for eight points on the afternoon (seven of them in the second period), but she played key roles throughout the contest.

That’s the IQ and chemistry of our team

Cailey Haas maneuvers through the St. Stephens defense.

If there was a play that seemed to define the season’s performance so far for this Pioneer team, it happened late in the final period and hardly any of the regular frontline players were even on the court.  Seldom used Libby Warren pulled in a loose ball in the paint, and alertly zipped a one-bounce pass to another Pioneer athlete usually playing in a reserve roll, Paige Bolick, as she raced toward the basket from the left side, along the baseline. One step after receiving the pass, Bolick was under the basket and in he air, finishing the layup.

“That’s the IQ and the chemistry of our team,” smiled Watauga head coach Laura Barry to Blowing Rock News afterwards. “All of our kids play together during practice. It doesn’t matter what number you are off the bench. Libby is an extremely smart player. She knows the game. You see it when she is on the floor. She is a leader by trade. That is just the way she is.  It was a beautiful pass and Paige finished it. She was almost under the rim and still had the wherewithal to finish. That was a great, great play and I am happy that Libby got that one.”

Our defense was a little tired in the first half….At halftime, I challenged them.

“I thought we had pretty good control of the game throughout,” Barry told reporters during the post-game press conference. Our offense was really good today. They mixed some things up on defense, but it didn’t bother our offense at all. It kind of made us work slower.  We still got good shots and knocked them down for the most part. Our defense was a little tired in the first half.”

Finding the Open Man: Parris Bolick (23) spots Madie Darner open on the perimeter.

Watauga opened strong from the get-go, propelled to a a 19-8 lead at the end of the first quarter by Robinson’s six points, as well as four apiece by Darner and JV call-up Chelsi Hodges.  But St. Stephens’ senior center, the 6-1 Tori Tomilinson, put the Indians’ fortunes on her shoulders in scoring nine points and helped get Watauga’s senior power forward Parris Bolick in foul trouble.

Asked to assess the challenge of facing an imposing physical force like Tomlinson, Barry said, “It’s tough, especially with Parris Bolick on the bench.  As much as we play Madie (Darner) and Rebekah (Farthing) as power forwards, they looked like dwarfs next to Tomlinson.  St. Stephens players were just throwing the ball over to her and we didn’t have an easy answer, but we came out in the second half with a different approach.  The big thing was to keep her off the glass (for rebounds).  In the end, we just pretty much overpowered them rather than stopping her.”

With the loss, St. Stephens falls to 11-8 overall, 4-6 in Northwestern Conference (6th place in the league standings).  Watauga continues to rule the roost in first place, undefeated in league play at 9-0, 15-2 overall.

Thanks to Northwestern Conference officials having to juggle the schedule because of snow days in the last month, Watauga will get a rematch with St Stephens  on Tuesday, in Hickory.  The JV girls will tip off at 4:00 pm, immediately followed by JV boys, then Varsity Women with Varsity Men to close out the night.

SCORING

St. Stephens

  • 16 — Tori Tomlinson
  • 10 — Ryleigh Rhodes
  • 5 — Amiya Randles
  • 3 — Alaysha McHenry
  • 3 — Lindsey O’Mara
  • 2 — Catherine McMahan
  • 1 — Katie Morgan

Watauga

  • 25 — Madie Darner
  • 12 — Maddisen Robinson
  • 9 — Cailey Haas
  • 8 — Brooke Byrd
  • 5 — Parris Bolick
  • 4 — Chelsi Hodges
  • 4 — Paige Bolick
  • 2 — Alyssa Lopez

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