By David Rogers. December 1, 2017. BOONE, NC — Hang on to your peace symbols. Witnesses to Friday night’s early season, high school rivalry men’s basketball game between host Watauga and visiting Ashe County best not be deceived by the placid appearance of the student sections in the grandstands. The home team’s “white out” and the Huskies’ “hippie” groove on the opposing side were hardly about peace and love. It was more like rock and roll.
COVER IMAGE: Alex McConnell got into early foul trouble and had to sit out a spell, but his second quarter production helped Watauga narrow an early deficit. Photographic image by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
It was an old fashioned rivalry dogfight, as it is ‘most every year. Watauga came out on top, 69-63, in this half of the annual home-and-home December series, but it was not without spills, chills, and thrills aplenty.
Ashe County guard Alec Roland scored 10 of his game-high 30 points in the first quarter to jumpstart the Huskies into a 13-9 lead. The Huskies were running full throttle right from the get-go and the Pioneers’ engine stalled at the starting line. Behind Roland and a smattering of scoring from five other Huskies, Ashe County led for most of the first half, at times by as many as 10 points, before the Pioneers circled their wagons.
Maybe it had something to do with Pioneer sophomore guard Jaidon Bond’s shoes. He started the game with what looked to be new white ones, but soon disappeared from the bench and re-emerged with older black ones. After the game Watauga head coach Rob Sanders confirmed to Blowing Rock News that
And the Pioneers’ on-the-court fortunes seemed to gain traction, too. Led by guard Bryant Greene’s team-high 27 points and an inside surge provided by power forward Alex McConnell’s six points in the second period, Watauga clawed its way back into the thick of things, trailing just by one point (26-25) when it was time for the visiting “flower children” to heat up their lava lamps and adjust their tie-dyed T-shirts at halftime.
Watauga senior Hayes Henderson is listed on the roster as a shooting guard, but head coach Rob Sanders explained to Blowing Rock News after the game that he is called upon at times to play in the post position. When McConnell got into foul trouble early in the second half, the 6-2 Henderson had to play “bigger,” and he responded by accounting for six points in the third quarter and five more in the 4th to help propel the Pioneers to the win. Only Bryant’s 17 in the second half exceeded Henderson’s who finished the game with 16.
The Pioneers also got significant late game production from Anderson Castle, who came off the bench to score eight points in the second half,, including going 6-of 6 from the foul line.
Next action for Watauga will be another regional, non-conference rivalry game on Wednesday, December 6, vs. Avery County. The Junior Varsity women’s team starts things off at 4:00 pm at Lentz-Eggers Gym, followed successively by the Junior Varsity Men, Varsity Women, and then the Varsity Men.
SLIDESHOW by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News