RONDA — The Huskies four-game losing skid came to a screeching halt on the road at East Wilkes Friday, Feb. 1. Stingy defense early and free throws down the stretch resulted in Ashe County’s 51-43 victory over the Cardinals.
“It was game of runs,” Ashe County head coach Nathan Colvard said. “We’d go on a run. Then, we would be confident and let them go on a run. It just worked out for us that the last four and a half minutes were probably the best we’ve played in the last two or three weeks. I thought all of my guys that got on the floor contributed positive things.”
The first run belonged to the Huskies, who jumped out to a 16-7 lead in the first quarter, with senior guard Alec Roland hitting a buzzer-beating shot over four defenders as the period’s time expired. Roland led the Huskies in scoring with 19 points, adding three rebounds and a steal to the stat sheet.
The Cardinals would pull the score closer in the second period, but a steal and fade-away final shot from junior Colby Greer extended the Huskies’ lead to six at the halftime break. Greer had nine points in the matchup.
The game stayed tight into the third quarter, as Ashe County would make shots but then be penalized for charges time and time again.
“I don’t think a single one of those calls was the wrong call,” Colvard said. “The officials did a great job. It was bad offense on our part. We don’t do a good job of recognizing if someone is set up in a wall to not run over them.”
Colvard said the team talked about the poor decision making during halftime.
“We came back out and did the same thing again,” Colvard said. “Our offense has struggled all year long, because we have people playing out of position. That’s a product of not making the easiest passes.”
Into the fourth quarter, Colvard made a lineup change, subbing Nate Lee in for usual ball-handler Austin Poe. Colvard said he talked to Poe about the change after the game, noting that the sophomore has been forced to play out of position all year. Poe finished the game with 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and one steal.
“A lot of times we’re at our best when Poe is the primary ball-handler,” Colvard said. “But, at that time, the most important thing was not attacking. The most important thing was being able to make passes. He’s made a lot of big plays and has scored a lot of points for us. That may have been the first time he’s ever been taken out of a game. I told him I love him, and we wouldn’t be in that situation where we could salt the lead away without him. But, I wasn’t going to put him in a situation where it wasn’t the right situation for him.”
The change worked, as the Huskies were able to hold off the Cardinals, converting their final 16 points from the charity stripe. Ashe County’s eight-point win gave extended its season win total to five.
“I still believe, when we play good and we make shots, we can beat anybody in our league,” Colvard said. “That’s our goal. We’ve got four games left now in the regular season and the conference tournament. Our goal is to win out. We’ve had a lot of close games. When we play good, we’re a really good team. We just have to prove that to ourselves down the stretch.”