By David Rogers. December 17, 2014. NEWLAND, NC — Avery County’s “silent night” project is a lot of bawdy fun for the Vikings’ student supporters of all ages, but when the dust had finally settled Wednesday night, the Pioneers had quieted the Vikings, 68-67 — but it took double overtime to do it.
Photographic images by Skip Sickler for Blowing Rock News
What happened to Watauga between their convincing home win vs. Avery County on Dec. 9th (65-47) at Lentz-Eggers Gym and this week’s nail biter of a thriller MIGHT be explained by the playing atmosphere. Similar to what has been successfully staged at larger universities, Avery County students staged their annual “silent night” event in which NO ONE cheered for an Avery County until the 10th Viking point is scored. That was a three-pointer by Avery’s Levi McIntosh — and then the place went nuts.
Although losing the services of junior forwards Aaron Dobbins (ankle sprain) and Michael Ebaugh (fouled out) may have explained some of Watauga’s late deficit, the rowdy, Viking-oriented atmosphere arguably unnerved the Pioneers, too.
With 1:27 left in regulation, the Pioneers trailed by seven points and it looked like the Vikings were going to get their revenge. But the Pioneers chipped away at the lead until senior guard T.J. Poulos tied the game at 53-53. Avery’s McIntosh put the Vikings back ahead with a little more than 9 seconds remaining and the Pioneers’ hope for a second win in as many nights (they beat St. Stephens, 78-48, on Tuesday) was a fleeting glimmer.
But it was “Poulos time”. The veteran guard took the inbounds pass, dribbled the length of the floor and drove past the Viking defenders for the tie in regulation, 53-53, with 1.2 seconds left.
The first overtime was a back and forth affair that saw James Stewart (no relation to the iconic “It’s a Wonderful Life” movie star, that we know of) tie the game late, sending the contest into a second overtime. With just under 8 seconds remaining in the second overtime, Watauga big man Matt Lambert was fouled and he made one of two free throws to put the Pioneers ahead.
The Vikings’ Jacob Waldroop scored a game-high 28 points, while Watauga’s Caleb Bryson shot a team-high 18 to lead the Pioneers.
After beating St. Stephens (47-36) in Hickory the night before, Watauga’s Lady Pioneers had little chance of establishing a “win streak” against Avery County on Wednesday. Watauga fell behind early and every rally attempt fell short of its goal. The Pioneers lost 47-35. Ryan Loflin recorded a team-high 13 points for Watauga, while Avery’s Kylie Polsgrove notched a game-high 28.
Slideshow of Men’s Game Images by Skip Sickler for Blowing Rock News