By David Rogers. SHELBY, N.C. — Down 21 points midway through the second quarter and finishing the first half with a 17-point deficit was hardly a deterrent for Watauga men’s basketball on Nov. 23 against Shelby. The Pioneers rallied to tie the game at 58-58 with under two minutes to go in the fourth quarter, on their way to what earlier seemed an unlikely win against the Golden Lions, 67-59.
Wyatt Keller and Jackson Pryor cleared the board on both ends of the court in the second half, quickly distributing the ball to point guard Maddox Greene to bring upcourt on a fast-paced attack. And that is where Pryor, Keller and Grant Morrison led the charge, offensively.
Pryor scored a game-high 19 points for the Pioneers, with Morrison and Keller adding 15 points and 12 points, respectively.
It was the first official game of the 2022-23 season for the Pioneers, who start the campaign 1-0 with the opening win. In the locker room afterwards, the celebrating Pioneers didn’t have any Gatorade handy but showered head coach Bryson Payne with plenty of water.
The fast pace and the defensive effectiveness start with coaching.
“We don’t care who scores,” said Payne. “I am more impressed by the rebounding, how we play defense, and how we share the ball in getting it to the best opportunity to score.”
In coming back from the 21-point deficit, Payne said the halftime adjustments were relatively subtle.
“I asked the guys what kind of team they wanted to be,” Payne said of challenging the Pioneers’ resilience. “I asked them to do a better job of boxing out under the basket and they did a great job of that in the second half.”
The men’s team will have plenty of time to bask in their first game accomplishments. Their next opponent is on Friday, Dec. 2. a non-conference, regional rivalry game against Avery County at home in Lentz Eggers Gym.
Women’s rally falls short
In the curtain raiser, the Watauga women’s basketball team saw sophomore guard Kate Sears record a game high 16 points against the Shelby women but a fourth quarter rally didn’t quite make up what was a nine point deficit for much of the game in a 39-36 loss to the Golden Lions.
Other scorers for the Pioneers included Brooke Scheffler (8), Caroline Farthing (5), Charlotte Torgerson (3), Julie Matheson (2) and Diane McGlamery (2)
The Golden Lions were led by Ally Hollifield (14), Brooke Hartgrove (8), L. Poston (6), Sydnie Enste (4), B. McEntire (4) and K. Borders (3).