MILLERS CREEK - The Buckin’ Elks edged West Wilkes Tuesday night to complete a perfect first-half run through the Mountain Valley Conference.
Playing without two starters, Elkin scored 53 second-half points to pull away from the Blackhawks late to win 79-70 to cap an 8-0 start to conference play.
“We controlled the boards and started kicking it to our guards and started that transition game we like to get into in the second half,” head coach Kenneth Abrams explained. “We were beating them down the court. One our rules is that after we get a rebound, we have four seconds to get the ball down the court, and they did it in four or less all night. We are fortunate to have big kids who can run.
“We played without two starters - Chris Hudspeth was out with the flu and Josh Strickland was out after his wisdom teeth were pulled. We went in there a little short-handed last night but still came out with the win,” he added.
After starting slow - 16 points in the first quarter, 10 in the second - and facing deficits of nine and 11 points in the half, Elkin made adjustments at the break and started to pull away.
“Frank Miller carried us in the first half. Sam Lane got off to a slow start and only had five points in the first half. They played a matchup zone and I told them at halftime that we had to get the ball inside,” Abrams said. “We came out in third quarter and we really did a good job of punching it inside.”
Lane scored 21 second-half points to power the Elks, who scored 28 points in the third quarter, to head to the fourth down one at 55-54. In the final period, Elkin out-scored West 25-15 to put the game out of reach.
Miller finished with 20 points on the night, while Jamiles Hayes added 11 points filling in for Hudspeth at the point.
“Jamiles Hayes deserves the game ball from last night - he came up huge,” Abrams said. “He hit three big threes in that third quarter and also made some key passes and got some key rebounds throughout the game. Jamiles Hayes stepped up big for Chris.”
Trey King tacked on 11 points, while Kody King finished with nine.
Elkin improved to 11-5 on the season and 8-0 in the conference with the win to head into the second-half of the MVAC slate on top. But Abrams said the next run through the conference will be tougher.
“The second half is going to be tougher than the first half because teams are going to adjust to what we do,” he explained. “We’re going to make some adjustments also. We’re prepared for the second half, we just have to go out there and get the job done.
“We’re looking forward to it and we’re excited. I think my ball team has really grown up a lot, especially tonight; we learned a few things about ourselves. When you have two of your starters out, you have to play harder. We got down twice by nine points and 11 points, but we’re good enough to fight back,” he added.
The Elks open their second-half slate tonight against North Wilkes in Hays. Elkin topped the Vikings 52-44 in their first meeting in the MVAC opener in December.
“Confidence level for the team right now is very high. It is probably higher now than it has been,” Abrams said. “We’ve had a pretty good locker room all year, but right now my boys are feeling it. They have that killer instinct now; they know they can win. We’ve grown up in this last year and we have the instinct now that when we can get ahead, our job is to put you away. The enthusiasm, motivation, attitude, everything is up right now, we just have to keep it up through every ballgame.
“I’m proud of the way they fought tonight, especially without two starters. We’re going into North Friday night. It’s going to be a war, I can feel it. We’re going to have minimize turnovers and control the tempo, we’ll be alright,” he added.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.