Blackhawks, Warhorses topple Vikings in boys varsity hoops
Jamie Shell / (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Avery boys varsity basketball continues to play a grinding and inspired style of defense while holding opponents to low point totals. Putting the ball into the basket offensively, however, has kept the club from earning a number of victories, including a pair of games last week, on the road on Monday, Dec. 10, in a 56-48 defeat at West Wilkes and in the team's conference home opener, a 72-62 loss on Friday, Dec. 14, against Owen.
The Vikings seized an early three-point lead in its contest at West Wilkes, then built a lead of as many as nine points at 25-16 late in the second period. A 7-0 Blackhawks scoring spurt to close the quarter cut Avery's advantage to only a pair at 25-23 at halftime.
The teams played closely through the third period, with Avery clinging to a 36-35 lead. During the final eight minutes the teams traded the lead before the Vikings built a two-possession advantage at 46-42 with just more than three minutes left in the contest. From that point, West Wilkes took over with a 14-2 scoring run to end the game.
Shea Buchanan paced the Vikings with 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists. James Stewart and Chance Watson each chipped in with eight points.
"We didn't shoot the ball particularly well. We had plenty of opportunities to not necessarily put the game out of reach, but certainly to put ourselves in better position to win the game," said AHS head coach Scott Polsgrove. "We just couldn't get it done offensively."
Four nights later, Avery returned to Viking Gym to play host to the Owen Warhorses to open Western Highlands Conference competition.
The teams played nip-and-tuck for much of the contest, with Avery holding a narrow 15-14 advantage after one period. Owen bounced back, however, outscoring AHS 19-16 in the second stanza to carry a 33-31 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Warhorses extended its lead in the third period, as Avery could manage only 12 points for the frame. Owen outscored the Big Red 39-31 over the course of the final two quarters to pull away for a 10-point win.
Two primary differences in the game were turnovers and free throws. Owen attempted twice as many shots as Avery, taking 34 shots to AHS's 17 attempts from the charity stripe. Avery also proved to be its own worst enemy, as it committed 22 turnovers that contributed to a number of Owen transition points.
"Owen picked up 16 points in transition off of turnovers. We outrebounded Owen, and that aspect of our team has continued to improve," Polsgrove explained. "We're executing better when we set up defensively in the half court, but we have to do a better job taking care of the basketball."
Buchanan again led Avery with a team-high 23 points, to go with six assists and only one turnover from the point guard position. He also added three rebounds and three steals. Chance Watson was the only other Viking scoring in double-figures with 13 points.
"Shea had a nice game against Owen. The one turnover is huge for us. On most any team, your primary ball handler will normally have the most turnovers, but to have that 6-to-1 ratio is really good," Polsgrove added.
Avery hosted Ashe County in nonconference action earlier this week, and travels to take on Thomas Jefferson Academy this Thursday, Dec. 20. The date of the game with TJCA is a change from the original date of Friday, Dec. 21.