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HomeHigh SchoolGetting physical: Hibriten outmuscles Watauga WBB, 64-50

Getting physical: Hibriten outmuscles Watauga WBB, 64-50

By David Rogers. LENOIR, N.C. — For the record, the Watauga women’s basketball team lost to Hibriten, 64-50, on Feb. 3, completing the regular season sweep for the host Panthers.

It was an athletic, highly physical and impassioned Hibriten quintet of seniors that took the floor at the start of the game on “Senior Night” for the Panthers. They set the tone early and imposed their close quarters contact style of play to great effect. Unfortunately for the Pioneers, Watauga did not match the Panthers’ physicality and fell behind early.

Charlotte Torgerson goes up against Hibriten on Feb. 3. Photographic image by David Rogers

The Pioneers played in “perfect storm” conditions. Not only did they seem unprepared for how physical the game evolved but they were playing with at least one leg in a bucket of cement, figuratively speaking. To say that Pioneer guards Kate Sears and Charlotte Torgerson were playing “under the weather” would be an understatement.

Sears was visibly in discomfort as she made a valiant attempt to fight through her illness and pull her teammates with her, but she nonetheless spent frequent, long stretches of time on the bench. To say she had an off night is hardly an exaggeration. It is rare that she is held scoreless in any period of a game, but that is what occurred in the first quarter. She eventually found the basket, mostly inside because her shots from long distance weren’t falling.

Said one teammate after the game of Sears, “I am surprised Kate didn’t vomit on the floor. Then there was this mucus… it was gross. Kate played bravely. She didn’t want to let the team down.”

Sears finished with 14 points. She was 0-for-3 from the foul line, a stat that says two things: (1) Sears was having an off night shooting because she is usually closer to perfect from the free throw line and (2) the officials were calling fewer fouls (given her drive-to-the-basket style, it is unusual for Sears to be awarded only three free throws).

In the second half, Watauga’s Laurel Kiker found an opening as she drove to the basket on Feb. 3 at Hibriten. Photographic image by David Rogers

Not quite as sick, apparently, Torgerson recorded a team-high 20 points, including three 3-pointers and 9-of-9 shooting from the foul line.

For Hibriten, senior guard Katie Story tallied a game-high 23 points, including a trio of 3-pointers and was successful on 6-of-7 free throws. Junior Emma Poarch wasn’t far behind with 18 points, also with three 3-pointers. Another senior, guard Zoey Walker added a couple more big shots from behind the arc, totaling 12 points on the night.

The ebb and flow of the contest mostly favored Hibriten throughout. Building on a 12-6 lead after the physical first quarter, the Panthers took a 24-18 lead into halftime. Coming out of intermission, Watauga briefly closed the gap in the third quarter — but it ended with the Pioneers still five points behind, 39-34.

Watauga guard Kate Sears (12) tries to negotiate the corner and drive to the basket on Feb. 3, at Hibriten, closely guarded by the Panthers’ Emma Poarch. How close? Notice the finger indentations on Sears’ right arm. Photographic image by David Rogers

Early in the final period, there was hope among the Pioneer faithful that the ship might be righted and Watauga could forge ahead. Three pointers by Torgerson and Julie Matheson helped close a 10-point deficit and pulled the Pioneers to within a single bucket, 44-42, but a subsequent 9-0 run by the Panthers all but squashed those hopes.

With time quickly evaporating, Watauga was forced to foul and hope that the Hibriten players would miss at the charity stripe in giving the ball back. The Pioneers sent the Panthers to the foul line for 11 foul shots in the fourth quarter, where they made eight of them.

Now 16-6 overall and 6-2 in Northwestern Conference play (both conference losses to Hibriten), Watauga will close out its season next week at Freedom on Feb. 7, then at home against Ashe County on Feb. 10.

Although both Hibriten and Watauga have identical 6-2 records in conference play, if both teams win out then the Panthers will own the tiebreaker in determining conference tournament seeding since both of the Pioneers’ losses were to their rivals from Lenoir.

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