RECAP: Day two of the WMAC tournament
WLOS - The Western Mountain Athletic Conference descended on Erwin High School for day one of the conference tournament. Two girls games and two boys games filled the schedule. Below is a recap of the second day of the opening round.
GIRLS - #2 Erwin vs. #7 West Henderson
The era of regular season domination ended this year for the Erwin Warriors girls' basketball team. The program had not lost a conference game since February 2015. The team still finished strong, going 14-2 during the regular season in Western Mountain Athletic Conference play. West Henderson toughed out a 2-14 record, but proved that it could be dangerous in spurts. That was evidenced by the opening quarter that ended with an 11-10 EHS advantage. Both teams featured balanced attacks with four players on each squad contributing to their teams totals.
The Warriors' Kaitlyn Messer blew up in the second quarter, dropping 9. Allie Jones added a three and a two to help Erwin create some separation before the half, 30-22. Jaia Wilson dropped two three-pointers for West to finish with 11 first half points.
Both teams struggled coming out of the locker rooms. Messer scored 6 of her teams' 11 points in the quarter. Izzy Bell hit a three in the period for the Falcons as they mustered 8 points.
Both teams found their grooves in the final frame. Briah Frisbee iced the game away for Erwin with eight free throws, while Messer also sank five. Wilson added 7 in the quarter for the Falcons but it wasn't enough, as Erwin hung on for a 59-45 win.
Messer was the leading scorer for the game with 24, with Frisbee adding 8, and Keyasia Meade and Emily Wilson contributing 7 for Erwin. Wilson led the Falcons with 20, while Gwyneth Bell tacked on 11, and Bell scored 5.
GIRLS - #3 Enka vs. #6 North Buncombe
The late girls game featured the Sugar Jets and the Blackhawks. Enka sports two of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the WMAC with junior Carly Banks and freshman Emily Carver. The Blackhawks were limping into the postseason. NBHS started off with a strong 7-5 record in league play, but dropped its last four to close the regular season. In the first quarter, the Blackhawks came out gunning. Makensie Chandler and Kaitlyn Light both drained three-pointers as the team jumped out to a 13-12 lead. Carver tallied 6 in the opening frame to jumpstart Enka.
The close game continued into the second quarter where Cassie Plemmon got going for North Buncombe. The versatile post player nailed a three and all four of her free throws to maintain the one point NB edge heading to intermission. Carver continued to be the spark for Enka, dropping 7 in the second.
Banks found her rhythm in the third quarter. A three pointer coupled with a deep two led the way for 8 points in the period while North Buncombe cooled off considerably. Emme Ducker and Light both hit threes, but Enka took the lead heading to the home stretch, 43-37.
The Blackhawks mounted a furious comeback in the final stage. Plemmons powered her way to 8 points, while Chandler drained two three's and a deuce to match her teammate with 8. However, Enka forced NBHS to take long possessions, milking precious time off the clock and held on fr a 58-57 win.
Banks led all scorers with 23, while Carver knocked down 15, and Madison Breedlove tallied 8. Plemmons topped the Blackhawks score sheet with 19. She was joined in double figures by Light with 14 and Chandler with 11.
BOYS - #2 A.C. Reynolds vs. #7 Erwin
The Reynolds Rockets earned a share of the regular season crown with North Buncombe, but lost the tie-breaker after losing a couple games in which they were favored down the stretch. Erwin spent most of the season flipping between hot and cold, ending the season on the latter by dropping three of its last four. The two were evenly matched through the first quarter. Simeon Thompson got off to a fast start for the Warriors with 5 quick points. Jace Dover tallied 6 for ACR in the opening frame to go along with a trio of three pointers from Isaiah Pruett, Jalen Crowder, and Tyler Parton. The two ended the first tied at 16.
The Rockets maintained their pace in the second with 4 points apiece from Dover and Eli Hembree. Four Erwin players made a field goal for a total of 8 points in the period as Reynolds grabbed a 30-24 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter Pruett, the 26.1 points per game scorer, began to heat up. He hit a pair of deep balls en route to a 10 points quarter. Johnny Peay for the Warriors also found his rhythm, dropping 12 while the rest of the team combined for 2 points in the stanza.
With a 46-38 lead, the Rockets turned to Pruett to put the game away from the charity stripe. He scored 14 in the final period including going 10 for 11 from the line. Jacob Silver put it 6 points for the Warriors, but Pruett and Reynolds pulled away for a 67-54 win.
Pruett led all scorers with 29 with Dover adding 14 and Embree chipped in 9 for Reynolds. Peay poured in 20 for Erwin with Silver tacking on 12 and Kobe Ball contributing 9.
BOYS - #3 Tuscola vs. #6 Asheville
The Tuscola Mountaineers entered as dangerous three seed having knocked off both teams ahead of them in the standings during the regular season. Tuscola features three players averaging double figures, led by junior Landon Henley at 21.5. Asheville also sports thee players averaging 10+ per game, topped by Zion Walker with 13.2. However, both leading scorers had relatively quiet first half performances. Walker scored five in the first quarter, but failed to register a bucket in the second quarter. Solomon Todd drained three field goals to lead the Cougars with 6 in the first frame. Tuscola's Max Rogers hit two contested three pointers to lead the Mountaineers out of the gate as his team trailed 19-17 at the first break.
Jarred Swanger found a groove in the second as he tallied 7 for THS. Famous Paisley hit a layup in transition to get the Cougars going, as he and Marvin Pearson both registered four points in the second stanza. Tuscola took a five point lead to the locker room, 36-31.
Asheville chipped away at the lead in the third period, as four players found the bottom of the net on the way to outscoring the Mountaineers 11-10 in the quarter.
The fourth quarter proved to be the deciding factor. Tuscola was a perfect 8 for 8 from the line, led by Henly who scored 8 points in the final frame. Pearson and Paisley both added 5 for the Cougars, but Tuscola pulled away for a 68-55 victory.
Lane Kervin led all scorers with a quiet 19, with Swanger and Rogers finishing with 15, and Henley wrapping up with 14 for Tuscola. Paisley paced the Cougars with 15, while Pearson got 13, and both Walker and Dalvin Battle tacked on 8.
GIRLS SEMIFINALS - #1 Tuscola vs. #4 Asheville ; #2 Erwin vs. #3 Enka
BOYS SEMIFINALS - #1 North Buncombe vs. #5 Enka; #2 A.C. Reynolds vs. #3 Tuscola