Watauga men complete varsity sweep of Spartans, 88-63

Watauga men complete varsity sweep of Spartans, 88-63
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Anderson Castle (10) sizes up his defender before driving the lane.

By David Rogers. January 2, 2019. HUDSON, NC — When your starters get into foul trouble, good basketball teams have quality depth on their bench to take up any slack. Visiting Watauga showcased its deep bench on Tuesday, running by South Caldwell’s men, 88-63, to open Northwestern Conference play.

COVER IMAGE: Blane St. Clair blistered the net for a team-high 29 points. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News

Head coach Rob Sanders told reporters after the game that before the Pioneers took the court he advised them, “At the end of the night, half of the conference is going to undefeated and the other half is going to be winless. In which half do you want to be?”

Without question, it was a hungry Pioneer side that took the court against South Caldwell. Like their distaff counterparts, the Watauga men entered the first league match-up with a 4-4 overall record, including wins in four of the most recent five games. Sanders observed to Blowing Rock News, “With all of the guys we have who also play football, we have been slow to introduce all of our press defense packages. With the holidays, we have been able to practice on some of those and the guys executed very well with them tonight.”

Not only did Jake Sears (5) contribute 17 points, but proved adept at finding the open man (usually St. Clair and Castle)

And press they did, forcing numerous turnovers and breakaway points off of steals. It was the pesky kind of defense that Watauga teams have been known for and against this opponent, at least, they pestered the Spartans to perfection.

It didn’t start out so easy nor clear-cut.  Watauga starters Zach West, Jaiden Bond, and Ethan Rothrock all got into early foul trouble and were forced to sit for most of the first half. Fortunately for the Pioneers, a trio of junior guards stepped up to take some pressure off of sophomore playmaking forward Blane St. Clair, who poured in a team-high 29 points, including five 3-pointers and 4-of-4 shooting from the charity stripe.

Junior guard Jake Sears had a career-type night in coming off the bench to add 17 points, which included five 3-pointers of his own.  Anderson Castle added 15 and reserve Jackson Earnhardt contributed nine points, all from beyond the three-point arc.

Jaiden Bond gets penetration and a good look at the basket.

Even with West, Bond and Rothrock seeing little first half action after each picked up two early fouls, the Pioneers were good to go-go-go-go.  St. Clair, Sears, Castle, and Earnhardt led the Pioneers on a 28-point scoring outburst in the second quarter, rallying from an opening minutes deficit to lead 22-19 at the end of the first quarter and then 50-43 at intermission.

Thanks largely to Sears’ 11 points in the third quarter alone, the Pioneers began to open up the lead, taking a 69-53 advantage into the final period. In each of the third and fourth quarters, Watauga outscored South Caldwell, 19-10.

The fast-paced action resulted in 37 fouls being called, Watauga with 18 and South Caldwell with 19. The Pioneers were 10-of-14 in shooting from the foul line, while the Spartans only managed 1-for-6 from their scorers.

Watauga resumes Northwestern Conference play on Friday against the always dangerous Alexander Central Cougars (8-3, 1-0) in Lentz Eggers Gym. The Cougars defeated West Caldwell, 53-47 on Tuesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00 pm.

SCORING

Watauga

  • Who says basketball is a non-contact sport?

    Shane St. Clair, 29 points, including five-3-pointers and 4-of-4 from the free throw line

  • Jake Sears, 17 points, including five 3-pointers and 3-of-3 from the free throw line
  • Anderson Castle, 15 points
  • Jackson Earnhardt, 9 points, including three 3-pointers
  • Ethan Rothrock, 4 points
  • Ben Ricker, 3 points
  • Jackson Greene, 3 points
  • Zach West, 2 points
  • Grant Oliver, 2 points
  • Luke Robbins, 2 points,
  • Jonah Martin, 2 points

South Caldwell

  • Justin Eggers, 34 points
  • Colby Collins, 11 points
  • Avery Raynor, 9 points
  • Spencer Piercy, 4 points
  • Trey Ramsey, 3 points
  • Austin Raynor, 2 points

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Watauga WBB frustrates South Caldwell, 33-22

About The Author

As Editor and Publisher of Blowing Rock News, David Rogers has chosen a second professional career instead of retirement. For more than 35 years, he served in the financial services industry, principally in institutional equity research. He grew up in the oilfields north of Bakersfield, California and was a high school English major and honors student. From an economically disadvantaged family background, he worked his way through college (on grounds crew and in dining hall, as well as advertising sales for college newspapers), attending Johnston College at the University of Redlands, Claremont McKenna College, and California State University, Bakersfield. Other jobs to pay for college included a Teamsters Union job in South Central Los Angeles, a roustabout in the central California oilfields, and moving sprinkler pipe and hoeing weeds in the cotton fields west of Bakersfield. Rogers' financial services industry career took him from Bakersfield to La Jolla and San Diego, then to Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Newport Beach and Charlotte before arriving in the High Country in 2000 to take a volunteer position coaching the rugby team at Appalachian State University and write independent stock market research. He spent three years as a senior financial writer for a global financial PR firm with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Shanghai, Beijing, Tel Aviv, and Frankfort (Germany). Rogers is the author of "The 90% Solution: Higher Returns, Less Risk" (2006, John Wiley & Co., New York). He is married to wife Kim (Jenkins Realtors), and shares in the joy provided by her three grown children and five grandchildren.

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