By David Rogers. January 10, 2020. BOONE, NC — It was closer than it needed to be. In fact, halfway through Watauga’s Northwestern Conference 45-33 win over visiting Hickory-St. Stephens, the Joselin Turner-led Indians led, 17-15.
COVER IMAGE: Chelsi Hodges (40) played strong underneath to help the Pioneers defeat St. Stephens, 45-33. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
Coming into Lentz-Eggers Gym on a blustery Friday night, St. Stephens was winless in conference play (0-2) and 2-13 overall, their wins coming against a couple of 2A schools in Bandys and Fred T. Foard.
Perhaps the Pioneers were taking a win over St. Stephens as a given. Afterall, Watauga had just disposed of McDowell on Wednesday and McDowell had opened the new year (Jan. 3rd) by thumping St. Stephens, 58-45.
After the game, Watauga head coach Laura Barry told reporters that she was disappointed by the level of energy her starters brought to the floor at the beginning. Perhaps that is why they all sat for a good part of the second period, giving up their places to a quintet of bench players even though the Pioneers only led 10-5 at the end of the opening stanza.
It wasn’t until the Indians had tied the game at 13-13 and gone ahead 15-13 late in the first half that Barry brought the frontliners back onto the court.
The motivational strategy worked, at least for Pioneer guard Brooke Byrd. The willowy senior attacked the rim, drawing fouls and making shots after intermission. She scored 16 points in the second half, finishing with a game-high 22 on the night. Of particular not was her 5-of-6 shooting from the charity stripe in the final quarter.
Power forward Chelsi Hodges helped keep WHS in the game in the first quarter with a pair of buckets, but only added five more in the 4th quarter to finish with nine points.
From a scoring perspective, this was a game where each team had one player dominate in putting points on the board. For the Indians it was Turner, completing her night with 15 points.
Although the Pioneer women recovered sufficiently to win the game, Barry found at least one area of concern: 16-of-33 shooting from the free throw line, or less than 50% (48.5%). Byrd had the most opportunities from the charity stripe, but was only 8-of-13 (61.5%).
While the team’s leading scorers, Byrd and Hodges were also Watauga’s leading rebounders, with 7 each. Both had 5 offensive rebounds.
Watauga goes on the road next week to face Hickory (11-3 overall, 3-1 NWC) on Tuesday, then back down the mountain to Morganton on Friday to challenge Freedom (9-4, 3-1)
- WHS – Brooke Byrd: 22 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 7 turnovers
- WHS – Chelsi Hodges: 9 points, 7 rebounds
- WHS – Ava Williamson: 5 points, 1 steal
- WHS – Brelyn Sturgill: 3 points, 3 rebounds, 1 blocked shot
- WHS – Rebekah Farthing: 3 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals
- SST – Joselin Turner: 15 points
- SST – Ryleigh Rhodes: 5 points
- SST – Elizabeth Sumpter: 4 points
- SST – Adri Tomlinson: 4 points
- SST – Kadence Ramseyer: 3 points