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Wildcats fall twice in return
H.S. basketball

Wildcats fall twice in return

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Draughn's Marshall Byrd (left) looks to pass out of a Bunker Hill backcourt trap Friday night in Claremont.

CLAREMONT — The Draughn boys basketball team is attempting to play catch-up on the schedule, with a second game in as many nights Friday.

The Wildcats were also playing catch-up on the scoreboard for much of the night at Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference foe Bunker Hill, falling behind by 22 at the half in a 70-52 setback.

Draughn (0-3) fought back to get within 10 in the second half but couldn’t get within single digits in the twice-rescheduled contest.

“I think they showed a little heart,” Draughn coach Yates Jensen said of his team’s rally. “And as I told them in the locker room, yeah, it still feels terrible to lose by 18 but we won the second (half). I was real proud of the way they went out and didn’t roll over.”

The Wildcats struggled with fullcourt pressure defense for a second straight night and trailed 25-12 after the opening 8 minutes, a deficit that was 40-18 by the half with Draughn making just two field goals in the second period.

Sophomore big man Luke Rector crashed the boards down low and scored six quick points out of the break to spark the guests. Brayden Schutt added a few buckets of his own, including a 3-pointer that cut the margin to as little as 10, ultimately going into the final quarter with the Wildcats down 53-40.

Draughn was led by Rector’s 15 points, his third consecutive double-digit effort to open the season. Schutt added 12 points, Elijah Pritchard had nine and Marshall Byrd and freshman guard Eli Tillery scored six apiece.

W. Iredell 68, Draughn 57 (THU.)

The Wildcats had played just one game before a COVID-related quarantine halted their season for the next two weeks. Thursday was their first night back from the hiatus, and on the docket was kindred spirits in the West Iredell Warriors, who were also returning from a two-week lockdown of their own.

The Wildcats, who entered the contest at 7-0 versus West as league foes the past three years, struggled to match the Warriors’ tempo, finding themselves forced into turnovers that proved costly as despite an early lead, the Wildcats succumbed.

West immediately pressured fullcourt to start the game. Initially, the Wildcats were able to take advantage and find some open looks under the basket with Rector. A couple well-timed 3-pointers from the Warriors barely nudged them ahead, 21-19, after one quarter.

Draughn flipped the script in the second, fighting hard on the boards and living offensively off free throws (seven made in the quarter) and two 3s from Schutt to take the lead into halftime, 38-33.

An inauspicious start to the second half put the Wildcats in a bind with a 9-0 Warrior run. Draughn struggled to get past the press this time and West also forced its will on the boards, leading to a slew of second-chance points for the Warriors.

The Wildcats only highlight was a buzzer-beating halfcourt shot from Matt Reep to end the third period. In a game that saw Draughn score 19 points apiece in the first two quarters, the Wildcats only scored 19 in the second half.

Rector, Schutt and Byrd each scored 11 to share team-high honors for Draughn, and Tillery made it four players in double figures with 10.

Draughn hosts Patton on Tuesday in boys-only action.

The News Herald sports department can be reached at sports@morganton.com.

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