By David Rogers. December 8, 2015. NEWLAND, NC — Basketball makes for pretty good theatre — and Tuesday night’s men’s and women’s varsity games between Watauga and host Avery County were edge-of-your-seat, rollicking adventure in front of a packed gymnasium crowd. Unfortunately for the visiting Watauga fans, “the good guys” exact the revenge they were seeking for last week’s dismissal by the Vikings. In this tale, the Dark Side men won again, 58-54, and the Avery women also won, 46-35.
COVER IMAGE: Watauga power forward Aaron Dobbins stole the ball in the Avery half midway through the final period, sprinted the length of the court, faked a pass, then drove the lane for a layup and was fouled in the process.
Photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News.
Both games were closer than the final scores indicated.
Waldrop Takes Command
With workmanlike precision inside by power forward Aaron Dobbins and an early 3-pointer by Nick Sherman, Watauga jumped out to an 11-2 lead, but Avery’s potent guard duo of Jacob Waldrop and Jeffrey Puckett scored the next 7 points to pull the Vikings to within two points at the end of the first stanza. Waldrop and another Viking guard, Deacon Heath, continued the onslaught in the second period, tying the game at 11 without even 10 seconds having ticked away in the quarter. Led by Waldrop, Avery County went on a tear in the second period while the Pioneers seemed to have misplaced their muskets. Watauga was outscored 20-6 in the second quarter, with Waldrop just one point shy of getting half of the Vikings points in the period.
Bryson Finds His Legs — And Scoring Eye
Nearly silent with only four points in the first half, Watauga senior guard Caleb Bryson snapped out of his funk in the third quarter, his 8 points leading an improbably Pioneer comeback in which the visitors outscored Avery 20-10 in the third period, Bryson having 8 of those. Although trailing by 12 points at halftime (17-29), with 2:07 remaining in the third Watauga pulled to within four points at 30-34, then to within two, 37-39 with 10 seconds remaining in the 3rd.
The first half of the 4th quarter was a tense defensive battle for the most part, but with about 4:10 remaining in the game, the 6-4, 220 lb. power forward, Dobbins, stole an ill-considered pass along the left side, sprinted upcourt and drove the lane for a layup to tie the game at 43-43, and was fouled in the process. A successful toss from the charity stripe gave Watauga its first lead of the game and the Pioneers seemed to have all of the momentum.
Not In Our House
Waldrop and forward Luke Crowe had other ideas for this contest’s outcome, however, including an important “three” by Waldrop. Then with Avery in the lead and the clock winding down, Watauga was forced to foul — and the hot-shooting Vikings took advantage, shooting 12 out of 14 free throws in the 4th quarter alone. Waldrop was 6-of-6 from the foul line in the 4th quarter and 8-of-9 for the game.
For the night, Waldrop scored a game-high 25 points, while Heath also got into double figures for Avery, with 10. Bryson shot a team high 17 points for the Pioneers, while Dobbins recorded 13 on the evening.
- 17 — Bryson
- 13 — Dobbins
7 — Sherman
- 5 — Valet
- 4 — Russell
- 4 — Mills
- 2 — Carmichael
- 2 — Ringler
- Avery County
- 25 — Waldrop
- 10 — Heath
- 7 — Puckett
- 6 — Crowe
- 4 — Krug
- 4 — McIntosh
- 2 — Stansberry
SLIDESHOW By David Rogers for Blowing Rock News