By David Rogers. December 6, 2017. BOONE, NC — Leading from start to finish, Watauga prevailed 56-51 over visiting Avery County Wednesday night at Lentz Eggers Gym in the opening half of the annual home-and-home non-conference series.
COVER IMAGE: Alex McConnell (15) played strong on the inside Wednesday night. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
The Pioneers’ senior guard Bryant Greene tallied a team-high 18 points, but his rebounding on both ends of the court proved a real difference maker.
Watauga head coach Rob Sanders credited a rebounding game fashioned by assistant coach Jerry Moretz as responsible for the team-wide surge in rebounding, but pointed to Greene and Hayes Henderson as the most proficient this early in the season.
“It’s gotten to the point that Bryant, especially,” Sanders noted, “can see the flight of the ball and instinctively just know where the carom is going off the rim or the backboard. He just always seems to be in the right spot to get the rebound.”
Watauga once again got strong inside play from power forward Alex McConnell, who scored 14 points on the night.
The surprise of the evening may have been Alex Marinakis’ 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. A week ago in practice, the 6-o senior shooting guard jammed his left thumb and the injury was initially feared to be torn ligaments or possibly broken, the thumb side of his hand swollen up to the size of a small grapefruit. X-rays revealed no fracture and no need for an MRI. He missed last Friday’s game against Ashe County, but by this Wednesday the swelling was down to “puffy” and he was almost pain free. His performance against Avery was almost a celebration, including a near-dunk in the final period.
Watauga travels to Ashe County on Friday, then to Avery County on Tuesday for the “away” portions of the seasonal rivalry series.