By David Rogers. February 10, 2020. BOONE, NC — Being perfect in shooting free throws through three-quarters of a basketball game contributes a lot to a team’s winning potential. Two of Hickory women’s team’s 12-for-12 perfection from the charity stripe Monday night may well have made the difference in the Red Tornadoes’ 50-48 victory over Watauga at Lentz-Eggers Gym.
COVER IMAGE: Chelsi Hodges (40) makes a strong move to score over Hickory’s 6-5 senior center, Shelby Darden. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
Although the Pioneers only trailed 7-5 after the first period, Hickory went on a 20-6 run in the second period — including 6-for-6 from the foul line — to take a 27-11 lead over their hosts at intermission. In short, Watauga dug a hole for themselves that proved too deep to overcome, in spite of the Pioneers “winning” the second half, 37-23. It was a rally for the ages, but in the end proved too little, too late.
For the victors, junior guard Aysha Short led all Hickory scorers with 13 points, while junior point guard Chloe James contributed 10 to complete the list of Red Tornadoes in double figures. The front-court tandem of 6-0 junior Finley Lefevers and towering 6-5 senior Shelby Darden added nine and eight points, respectively, for the balanced Hickory effort.
In Watauga’s second half, strong inside play enabled the Pioneers to close the gap. Just after halftime, junior power forward Chelsi Hodges outmuscled her Hickory counterparts for 13 of her game-high 15 points, while senior guard Brooke Byrd tallied 11 as the only other Pioneer in double figures.
Whereas Hickory was “money” from the free throw line (17-of-25, or 68% for the full game), on this night the Pioneers shot just 31% (4-of-13) from the foul line.
The Pioneers (15-6 overall, 8-3 in Northwestern Conference) conclude regular season play Tuesday night at Morganton-Freedom.
Watauga Scoring Leaders
- Chelsi Hodges — 15 points, 8 rebounds (5 offensive)
- Brooke Byrd — 11 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals
- Brelyn Sturglll — 7 points, 4 rebounds
- Rebekah Farthing — 6 points, 12 rebounds (8 offensive), 2 steals, 1 blocked shot
- Molly Ward — 4 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal
Hickory Scoring Leaders
- Aysha Short (13 points)
- Chloe James (10)
- Finley Lefevers (9)
- Shelby Darden (8)