ELKIN - The Buckin’ Elks exacted more than three years of revenge on bitter rival Starmount Friday night in the hardwood edition of the Battle of the Bridge.
Elkin pulled away in the second half to romp the Rams, cruising to the 61-40 victory in front of a raucous crowd piled into N.H. Carpenter Gymnasium. It was the Elks’ first win in the rivalry since a 57-47 triumph in December 2009.
“We got off to a slow start. I think we were a little bit cocky early, but we had a come to Jesus meeting at halftime, and it paid off,” Elkin head coach Kenneth Abrams said. “It was a good win. Anytime you beat Starmount, it’s a good win.
“It was a great second half. We put the game away in the third quarter, especially with our press. They got a good butt-chewing at halftime and they woke up in the second half. I knew I didn’t want Starmount hanging around,” he added.
Gunner Cass and the Rams came out on fire, quieting the rowdy Elkin stands. Cass scored nine first-quarter points to give Starmount an early 11-9 advantage as the Elks struggled to find their rhythm.
But Elkin battled back and and outscored the Rams 14-5 in the second quarter to start the rout.
The Elks’ full-court pressure caused fits for Starmount in the backcourt in the third quarter, resulting in easy fast-break layups. The Elks dropped 18 points in the frame and pushed their lead out to 43-28.
“We really scored most of our points off the press; we’re pretty good at it,” Abrams said. “They had quite a few turnovers off our press. If we can press like that, we’re going to be tough to beat.”
Lane and Elkin outscored the Rams 35-25 in the second half to coast to the comfortable and satisfying 60-41 victory.
“Some of these kids haven’t beaten Starmount in a while, so it was a real good win,” Abrams explained. “We didn’t try to run the score, we just played basketball. I knew they were young and we have more veterans, but when you hit the court, it’s business as usual. It was a great win; a win that we needed.
“It’s probably been four years since we beat them. And I think it was seven years since we beat Wilkes Central. I’ll sleep good tonight,” he added.
Lane powered Elkin with 19 points on the night, including a breakaway two-hand dunk in the fourth, while Frank Miller added 11. Trey King finished with seven in the game with Kody King tacking on six points.
Cass led Starmount with 11 points in the game, but only scored twice in the final three quarters. James Ashley added eight points for the Rams, while Isaiah Billips tacked on six.
Despite the fast start to the game, Starmount head coach Rocky Horton said the Rams weren’t going to win many games scoring just 41 points.
“We had a good start, some people started off really hot for us. Then we just went cold,” he said. “Second quarter, I don’t know how many points we had, but it wasn’t many. It was their pressure - they got into their press and it got to us and we had a lot of turnovers, especially in the second half.
“We’re young but we have to learn how to handle pressure and how to put the ball in the hole. You’re not going to win many ballgames scoring 40 points. It’s something we’re going to have to work on,” Horton added.
With the win, the Elks stay perfect in the Mountain Valley Conference at 4-0 and 7-3 overall. The win was also Elkin’s sixth-straight since dropping three in a row in November. Starmount fell to 0-5 on the year and 0-3 in conference play with the loss.
Both squads are taking Tuesday off for final exams and will return to action Friday night. Starmount travels to Moravian Falls to take on Wilkes Central, while Elkin heads to Ronda to battle East Wilkes.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.