Catching Up With the Spartans by Dan O’Neal

HUDSON, NC (February 13, 2017)…Senior Night at any high school or college in any season, in my view, is always a special occasion. Yes, they do tend to drag somewhat however, they only come around one time a year and why deprive a child or parent of such sweet memories? If you could have seen the joy in those parents, family members and athletes faces, you would not have seen self-absorbed but rather, solid connections and friendships that will most likely last for a lifetime.

First, congrats to Junior Varsity boys and girls basketball teams on recording winning records during the 2016-2017 campaign. One observation is there is usually a full house at Spartan Gym for all four home games. Spartan Nation definitely gets behind their athletes!

The Student Section for home games always make for a lively and rambunctious crowd. By the way, your halftime “dance routine” following the Dance Team was a spectacular performance. We sure are sad that Gracie “future olympic gymnast” Bowman didn’t get to take her air rolls into the crowd; nevertheless she, Mallory and the other members of the cheer squad did not disappoint. Her dad, who serves our nation in the Armed Forces, can be proud of her accomplishments.

Gracie Bowman

In the girls matchup, for three quarters, the Lady Spartans, maintained a lead over the Lady Pioneers of Watauga. Mackenzie Starnes, at this point in the contest, scored twenty points to keep this lead going into final frame.

Then comes the last eight minutes, and that is where Pioneers guards Karson Hamrick and Madie Darner score nineteen of their twenty-six points. They also stepped up the defensive intensity, limiting the Spartans to a “whompin-stompin” six points although junior guard Lyrec Evans scored a very sweet trey to help finish the fourth with nine points. They were also able to cool off Starnes, who along with senior Brooke Williams, was held scoreless from the field in the final period and led to the Lady Spartans coming up short by the count of 57-44. Though senior Lacey Annas would foul out of the game, she still makes matters difficult for anyone who attempts to score in the paint. This will be much needed as conference tournament begins soon.

The senior night finale was the boys contest, which had the Spartans jumping out to a 25-10 after one. It was at the 1:32 mark of the first quarter where senior Alex Haigler scored his 1000th career point at South Caldwell. When this happened, you could not even hear yourself think as such a moment like that should be that way. Haigler would finish the game with 35.

Also in the first quarter as senior Jody Spears, after scoring the first points of the game on a three ball, he was going down court for a dunk until Pioneers senior center Jeremy Ringler fouled him really hard, causing him to have to leave the game with an injury. Spartan Nation wishes you a speedy recovery!

South entered the final quarter with a 54-43 lead over 6-17 Watauga, who was seeking to be a senior night spoiler. Key jumpers by Haigler and senior J.C. Byland, along with key free throws near the end of the game by senior Caleb Ferris and shot blocks by senior Wingate football signee Ryder Martin, helped fend off a Pioneer twenty-nine point fourth quarter rally to preserve a 77-72 victory.

Comments by Boys coach Darren Hart, “Players make plays. Plays do not make players. I try to get our guys in a spot to make things happen. We are not robots”.

Other Notable Notes: After Spears untimely game exit, Ferris did a super job filling in as he finished the game with 11 points. Martin tallied fourteen rebounds and five blocks along with Byland with a double-double, twelve points and twelve rebounds.

Hope Lail, so glad you are back from concussion protocol. So very glad you were able to suit up for your senior night!

To the Hospitality Crew, thank you so very much for the wonderful food! Your generosity is more than commendable.

First Round Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Tournament games (according to Max Preps). Girls game vs. St. Stephens at home, Tuesday, February 14,7pm. Boys at Patton, Tuesday, February 14, 7pm.