Wildcats rally to 2-0 start in W Highlands

Published | Dec 20, 2023

Valdese- The Draughn boys basketball team went through a winless skid in non-conference play.

It prepared the Wildcats as they are off to a 2-0 start in the 2023-24 Western Highlands 1A/2A conference season after a 71-63 win over visiting Avery County.

“It was a conversation we had with the boys that this was the time to mesh and have a chance to run the table in this conference,” said Wildcats basketball coach Drew McGuire. “It all came to fruition in these last couple of games, and we hope to keep it up.”

Draughn trailed by five, 13-8, at the end of the first quarter when Jack Charlet and Blake McElyea each scored a basket to open the second quarter.

A knock-down three-pointer by D’Andre Moore gave the Wildcats their first lead, 15-13.

The lead grew as high to 27-18 after baskets by Moore and Connor Houston and led at the halftime break by eight, 31-23.

McElyea and Houston opened the third quarter by each scoring a basket to boost the lead while Avery County was able to cut the lead down to 35-33.

Despite made 3s by Blair Cooper and Moore, the Vikings still battled to force a 44-44 tie heading into the fourth quarter.

The Vikings only gained the lead once as the Wildcats responded with seven straight points (Moore 5, Cooper 2) to steal the lead back.

Draughn’s lead could only get cut down to three points as Moore, McElyea, Houston, Cooper, and Eli Tillery scored the necessary points to wrap the win up.

Moore’s 11 second-half points and 7 of 7 made free throws accounted for his game-high 30 points. He now holds a 26.3 scoring average in six games.

AC 13 10 21 19

D 8 23 13 27

D’Andre Moore 30, Blake McElyeya 13, Eli Tillery 11, Cooper 9, Houston 6, Charlet 2

GIRLS: Avery County 66, Draughn 63

The Lady Wildcats were clawing for a comeback to keep an undefeated mark in Western Highlands play but fell short despite outscoring the visiting Lady Vikings 19-18 in the last period of play.

Draughn led 14-13 at the end of the first quarter after Jenna Abernathy got a made shot off at the buzzer.

The lead then changed hands seven times with Avery County leading at the halftime break 27-26.

Abernathy made three 3-pointers in the second half to finish with a team-high 14 points.

Kenley Berry made all eight free throws to finish with 12 points.

Emilee Cook (11), Zoe Rector (11), Rylee Woody (9), and Taylor Holder (6) all contributed to second-half scoring.

AC 13 14 21 18

D 14 12 18 19

Jenna Abernathy 14, Kenley Berry 12, Emilee Cook 11, Zoe Rector 11, Woody 9, Holder 6

JV GIRLS: Avery County 45, Draughn 33

Kylie Corpening and Mati Kincaid each scored 11 points to lead the JV Lady WIldcats in their Western Highlands Conference opener.

JV BOYS: Avery County 55, Draughn 36

Tavion Wilkerson (14) and Gavin Johnson (11) led the JV Wildcats in Tuesday’s home loss.

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