By David Rogers. February 15, 2018. MORGANTON, NC — At first glance looking back over Watauga High School’s 2017-18 women’s basketball season, outside observers might think that Pioneer head coach has a strategy for making sure that a different one of her team members steps up to make a difference, offensively, from game to game. Sometimes it is Madie Darner, sometimes Maddisen Robinson. One game, Brooke Byrd. Another game, Parris Bolick or Cailey Haas. On Thursday night in the semifinals of the Northwestern Conference tournament against perennial nemesis, Hickory, the step up girl was sophomore guard Rebekah Farthing who poured in a game-high 23 points — almost half of the team total — in leading the Pioneers to a convincing, 53-41 win.
The Northwestern Conference semifinals and finals for both men and women are being hosted by Morganton-Freedom and the Pioneers vs. Hickory semifinal drew the first of the four semifinal games.
Thanks to pesky, disruptive team defense and six points apiece from super sophomores Farthing and Brooke Byrd, the Pioneers jumped out to a 16-4 lead by the end of the first period. Farthing kept up the offensive pace with another six points in the second quarter and the Watauga defense kept the brakes on the Red Tornadoes again, to take a dominating, 27-8 lead into halftime.
Hickory lived up to the Red Tornadoes’ strong basketball tradition after halftime, making a run at the 19-point halftime deficit with some defensive adjustments and a 14-point individual offensive performance in the third quarter by Mikayla Hill. She scored a team-high 17 for the entire contest, but her third period effort led a 22-16 Hickory rally after intermission. What was a 27-8 lead when folks retired to the concession stands to refill their popcorn buckets, at one point with about three minutes remaining in the third period had been whittled down to just a 35-30 Watauga advantage.
With Blowing Rock native Parris Bolick picking up the slack inside and Farthing finding her range again, the Pioneers re-asserted themselves to close out the quarter with an 11-point lead (43-22), the cruised on to preserve the 12-point, 53-41 win by the final buzzer.
The top-seeded Pioneers will return to tournament host Morganton-Freedom’s campus on Friday evening to face Freedom, which advanced by defeating #3 seed McDowell, 60-44.
Watauga is now 13-1 in conference play on the season, the lone loss coming at the hands of Freedom last week, in Boone. The Pioneers are 21-3 overall. MaxPreps.com ranks the 2017-18 version of Watauga women’s basketball as the 36th best team in the state, sixth at the 3A level. The Patriots are ranked just behind the Pioneers in both rankings, 37th as the overall best women’s team in the state, 7th at the 3A level.
- 17 – Mikayla Hill
- 10 – Finley Lafevers
- 8 – Shelby Darden
- 4 – Mason Paradine
- 2 – Kara Byrd
- 23 – Rebekah Farthing
- 9 – Brooke Byrd
- 6 – Madie Darner
- 5 – Parris Bolick
- 5 – Maddisen Robinson
- 3 – Cailey Haas
- 2 – Molly Ward