By David Rogers. January 3, 2017. BOONE, NC — After a 7-game win streak, the Watauga women’s basketball team can be forgiven for dropping a game — especially when the 54-41 loss comes at the hands of last season’s 3A-level, North Carolina state champion Freedom Patriots of Morganton.
COVER IMAGE: Freedom’s Viasha Tate (34) muscles past Watauga senior forward Alden McClure (20) to secure a rebound. Photographic image by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
Freedom returned at least two of last year’s leading scorers and the Amber Reddick-coached Patriots showed why they are 10-1 already this season and favored to go deep into the state championship tournament again this year. Senior team captain and guard Ariyana Williams poured in 22 points to lead Freedom, joined in double figures by fellow senior captain Amaryah Corpening, with 10 points.
Freedom held a 27-20 lead at halftime, then widened the advantage to 13 by games’ end.
Watauga was paced by 12 points from senior point guard Karson Hamrick and 9 from junior guard Madison Robinson.
The tenacious Lady Pioneers kept themselves in the game with scrappy play from start to finish, but were largely outmeuvered under the baskets for rebounds from errant shots on both ends of the court.
“(In playing against Freedom) we’ve seen the standard toward which we need to play,” first year Pioneer head coach Laura Barry noted to Blowing Rock News afterwards.
Watauga was scheduled to play at Hibriten on Friday night (Feb. 6), but that game will now be played on Thursday, Feb. 5th because of harsh winter weather forecast for the High Country coming into the weekend on Friday.
Now 7-5 overall, midway through the season Watauga has won more games than all of its 2015-16 campaign when it finished with a 5-19 record and 3-11 in Northwestern Conference play. With wins over St. Stephens and Fred T. Foard, the Watauga women are now 2-1 in league play, hoping to improve against Hibriten. The Panthers are 0-7 overall, 0-3 in Northwestern Conference.
Freedom’s lone loss in the 2016-17 season came at the hands of non-conference opponent East Burke the first game of the season, Nov. 29, 57-50, in Connelly Springs. The Patriots will travel to Hudson on Friday to face South Caldwell (10-2, 3-0).