Varsity boys basketball opens season, earns first win
Jamie Shell / (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Avery fell behind early in its game against the Pioneers, falling behind 13-2 in the opening quarter before a rally cut the lead to 16-8 after one period.
The Vikings clawed to within 16-13 early in the second quarter before a 18-5 scoring spurt spanning five minutes of playing time extended WHS's lead to 34-18 at halftime.
Avery made its greatest charge to start the third period, as its defense held Watauga scoreless for 6:47 of the eight-minute stanza. The Vikings managed only seven points during the span, however, drawing to within 34-25. Watauga regrouped and outscored Avery 7-3 to close the quarter with a 41-28 advantage.
Each time AHS tried to mount a rally, Watauga closed the door. AHS could get no closer than 11 points for the remainder of the contest, as WHS eventually sealed the 14-point win.
Shea Buchanan was Avery's lone scorer in double-figures with 10 points. Chance Watson, James Stewart and Austin Phillips poured in six points apiece.
"We hung in the game with Watauga. We had a great third quarter defensively, as we held them without scoring. We just couldn't score enough to close the gap to where we could really threaten them," Vikings head coach Scott Polsgrove said. "We're looking forward to playing them again."
Avery struggled with the turnover bug in its tournament opener against the R-S Central Hilltoppers. AHS trailed 13-6 after one period and fell behind 29-18 at halftime.
R-S extended its lead to 50-37 after three quarters and pulled away in the final period for a 31-point win.
No Vikings player registered double-figures scoring, as Payton Lowery and Luke Wotell led Avery with six points each.
"We had 33 turnovers in 91 possessions, and the game really got away from us in the fourth quarter," Polsgrove explained. "We needed to make a big run entering the fourth quarter down 15 points, but we were our own worst enemy. When you turn the ball over as many times as we did, you have to be perfect defensively, and that's not going to happen."
Avery closed out its holiday weekend with an impressive win against Cherokee that was fueled by a strong defensive effort. Chase Buchanan paced the Big Red offensively with 13 points, with nine points from Stewart and eight points from Daniel Childress.
AHS led 10-6 after a low-scoring first period, and carried its first halftime lead of the season into the locker room following two periods at 25-16. The Vikings took control of the contest in the third period, outscoring the Braves 13-9 to build a double-figures lead at 38-25.
Avery's defense stifled and negatively affected the Braves, who lost its cool on multiple occasions and picked up four technical fouls in the game. The Vikings remained calm and disciplined, however, playing smothering defense and scoring the basketball on offense. The Big Red was 9-of-12 from the free throw line in the final eight minutes of the game to protect its lead and claim the victory.
"It was a little chippy out there at times, and I think Cherokee was a little frustrated. They had a lot of energy, and from seeing their game with Mitchell I felt they were as good as R-S Central," Polsgrove added. "They didn't seem to have as much energy, which I'm sure had to do with them playing the final game the night before. I also thought we did a good job of taking away the things that they do well. They drive the ball well and are really good in transition, and we limited that. Our guys listened and prepared well and did a heck of a job. We also took care of the basketball, which has been an Achilles' Heel. Our on-ball and help-side defense were both really good."
Avery traveled to Ashe County earlier this week, and will play its home opener against West Wilkes this Friday, Nov. 30.