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Watauga cuts down net after thrilling, 50-38 win over Myers Park

By David Rogers. BOONE, N.C. — Oops, it happened again.

For the second time in as many  weeks, a basketball net was cut down in the High Country. Last week it was App State men’s basketball team celebrating the Sun Belt Conference regular season championship. On Friday, March 8, it was the Watauga High School women’s basketball team’s turn after a thrilling, 50-38 win over Myers Park to advance to the Final Four of the North Carolina 4A State Playoffs.

It may well have been the last time in 2024 that a basketball game will be played in Lentz Eggers Gym, but the reverberations of a capacity crowd providing an electric atmosphere — and an electrifying team performance — will undoubtedly expand the limits of High Country time.

Once again, the Pioneers struggled to score early on. After the Pioneers and Mustangs traded blows in the first quarter, Myers Park gained momentum to take a 16-9 lead at the beginning of the second period. But especially after freshman Blair Haines ignited the crowd with a nothing-but-net early in the period, the Pioneers seemed to regain their rhythm and the shots from long range started dropping for Kate Sears, Charlotte Torgerson, and Julie Matheson from long distance.

Having played each other just a year ago in an early season Charlotte tournament, these two adversaries were somewhat familiar with each other and the tight battles reflected as they went back and forth. Myers Park held a tenuous, 20-19 lead at intermission but with tenacious defense forcing Mustang turnovers the Pioneers gained the upper hand, 31-26 at the end of the third period.

Watauga head coach Bill Torgerson finishes cutting down the net after his Pioneers defeated Myers Park, 50-38, to advance to the Final Four of the NC 4A State Playoffs. Photo by Donny McIver for High Country Sports

Once again, as they have done all season at home, Watauga poured it on in the final stanza with 19 fourth quarter points while limiting Myers Park to just 12, gaining separation. And the scoring came from multiple players, including a pair of dagger “threes” of the hands of Matheson, five points each from Sears and Kaitlyn Darner, and a couple of bonus free throws from Charlotte Torgerson.

“I think the crowd really energized us when we struggled to score,” said Pioneer head coach Bill Torgerson, “but really battling on defense. Then, when we knock down a couple of threes and the crowd is going bananas, that really boosts the players’ confidence.”

Acknowledging that the Pioneers are somewhat undersized vs. a lot of teams, Torgerson emphasized how important shooting from long range is to his team.

Watauga’s players were all smiles after defeating Myers Park in Round 4 of the NC 4A State Playoffs on March 8. Photo by Donny McIver for High Country Sports

“We shoot a lot threes so (when they aren’t falling) that is why we can have lower scoring quarter,” Torgerson said, “but then we can have a big one like in the fourth, scoring 19. I told them at half if we hit on 6-of-15 (3-point attempts) instead of 3-of-15, we probably win.

“We got going in transition more,” he added, “and our defense was spectacular. That’s what kept us in the game.”

The Pioneers will now turn their attention to preparing for the 4A West bracket championship game — also known as the State semifinals — vs. No. 3 seed Charlotte Catholic. The Cougars advanced with a 51-44 win over Lake Norman. The Regional Championship game will be played at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem at approximately 5 p.m.

WATAUGA SCORING

  • Kate Sears – 16
  • Julie Matheson – 11
  • Kaitlyn Darner – 9
  • Charlotte Torgerson – 9
  • Blair Haines – 3
  • Laney Shook – 2
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