Another night at Titan Gym, another coronary-inducing cliffhanger of a win for the McDowell Titans.
The Titans held on for a 75-71 win over the Watauga Pioneers in a game that wasn’t decided until the final moments. The victory came on the heels of a 61-60 nail-biter against St. Stephens Tuesday. McDowell’s last three home contests have been decided by a total of 10 points.
Friday, the Titans (8-2 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference, 16-4 overall) made enough plays down the stretch to hold off the upset-minded Pioneers (3-5, 9-6) in a game that featured nine ties and 17 lead changes.
Post Travis Corpening led McDowell with 22 points, while wing Skyler McKinney recorded his second triple-double of the season, with both of them coming against Watauga. McKinney scored 11 points, handed out 10 assists and pulled down a whopping 19 rebounds.
Point guard Kevin Silver (3 steals) added 16 points and guard Antoine Lindsey (4 assists), who didn’t start because of a flu-like illness, finished with 13 points and four assists. Caden Davis (4 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block) had an outstanding floor game.
The Titans needed all of that and more against the Pioneers, who got a game-high 26 points from Bryant Greene (9 rebounds). Post Alex McConnell added 17 and Sam Crabbe 10 for Watauga.
The Pioneers led 39-34 at the half and didn’t relinquish the lead for good until midway through the final quarter. McDowell struggled through a sub-par shooting night from the perimeter, making just 7-of-27 from 3-point range.
“We challenged them at halftime,” said Titans head coach Brian Franklin. “We told them they’re better than that. You guys sometimes look like all you care about is if your shot is falling or not. You’re better players than that. You’re good enough players to help the team even if your shots aren’t falling by playing defense, moving the ball, making great passes and rebounding.
“I thought in the second half, we did that, and it’s funny how, as a result of that, some of those shots start falling. I was proud of the way we played in the second half.”
Greene scored 15 of Watauga’s 26 points in the second quarter and helped the Pioneers take a five-point advantage at the half.
But the Titans recaptured the lead less than two minutes into the third period, and it was a dogfight from there.
McDowell went ahead for good at 62-60 when Corpening scored on an inbounds play off a Silver assist with 5:25 to go.
Half-a-minute later, Silver nailed a triple off an assist from McKinney, and McDowell led 65-60.
Watauga got back within one twice more, the last time at 67-66 on a bucket by Greene with 1:55 to play.
McDowell answered 20 seconds later when Corpening scored in the lane on McKinney’s tenth assist to make it 69-66.
Green was called for a walk on the other end, and McKinney capitalized with a strong drive and finish, stretching the margin to 71-66 with 1:05 to play.
After that, the Titans did mop-up duty at the free-throw line to seal the win.
“I thought (Davis) had the best game he’s played all year,” said Franklin. “He fought in there like crazy against their big kid (McConnell, who plays tackle on Watauga’s football team). Antoine was huge for us. He had a temperature of 103.7 yesterday morning and we didn’t even know if he’d play. Kevin made huge shots toward the end of the game. Skyler was just outstanding. Travis has played great and has been huge on the interior.”
The Titans host Alexander Central Tuesday before going on the road at South Caldwell, West Caldwell and Freedom to wrap up the regular season.
Watauga (71) Zach West 0-2 0-0 0, Jonathan McClannon 2-7 0-0 6, Alex Marinakis 2-9 0-0 6, Alex McConnell 7-9 3-5 17, Bryant Greene 8-18 8-9 26, Sam Crabbe 4-5 1-2 10, Hayes Henderson 1-7 0-0 2, Jaiden Bond 2-5 0-2 4, Anderson Castle 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 26-62 12-18 71.
McDowell (75) Skyler McKinney 4-11 2-4 11, Caden Davis 2-3 0-0 4, Travis Corpening 9-14 4-5 22, Dylan McCrary 2-4 0-0 4, Kevin Silver 5-16 3-3 16, Antoine Lindsey 5-13 1-3 14, J.C. Olivo 1-5 2-2 4, Adam Randolph 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 28-66 12-17 75.
Watauga 13 26 13 19 – 71
McDowell 13 21 21 20 – 75
Rebounds: WHS (35) McDowell (35) Rebound leaders: WHS (Greene 9) McDowell (McKinney 19) 3-point goals: WHS (7-22) McDowell (7-27) WHS (McClannon 2-5, Marinakis, Greene 2-6, Crabbe 1-1, Henderson 0-4) McDowell (Silver 3-10, Lindsey 3-9, McKinney 1-3, McRary 0-2, Olivo 0-3) McDowell assist leaders: (McKinney 10) McDowell steals leaders: (Silver 3) McDowell blocked shot leaders: (Davis, Corpening 1) Turnovers: WHS (14) McDowell (11) Fouled out: WHS (Greene :09—fourth)