BOONVILLE — The first round of the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference basketball tournament saw East Wilkes travel to Boonville on Friday night. The Rams, ranked fourth, played host to the Cardinals, who were ranked fifth. Starmount battled for four quarters to take a 54-42 win over East Wilkes to move on to the semifinals of the tournament.
The first quarter saw both teams come out evenly matched. Joah Logan and Bryce Vestal came out on fire for the Cards, while Griffin Cass and Brendan Eads came out strong for the Rams. For the first six minutes, the defensive strategies outweighed the offense as neither team was able to score in double digits. The Rams were able to score eight points, while the Cards scored five.
With a three-point lead going into the second quarter, East Wilkes knew it would have to keep up its pace to outlast the Rams. Trey Dezern didn’t let the Cards think too long about how hard they would have to play, as he opened up the second quarter with a two-point basket to pull the Rams within one point.
The tide changed in the third minute of the second quarter, as Eads took a note from Steph Curry’s playbook. Eads found himself open on the right side of the arc and drained a three-point basket to give the Rams a 10-8 lead. From there the Rams couldn’t miss a shot as Eads and Cass took their team on a run before the Cardinals came up with its first points of the second quarter.
Church broke the Rams’ scoring streak, and the Cards were able to build their momentum to take a momentary 19-18 lead over the Rams. Starmount didn’t let East Wilkes hold on to the lead for long, as Houston Nicks and Cass both knocked down two free throws a piece to hand the lead back over to the Rams. At halftime, the Rams took a 22-19 lead over East Wilkes.
In the third quarter, the Rams kept building on their lead as Eric Wiles hit a three-point shot to start off the quarter. The Rams kept up their pressure and were able to take a 42-21 lead at the end of the third due to Eads, Cass, Wiles and Nicks all showing up and turning out a great performance.
The final quarter saw East Wilkes try to make a comeback, but it wasn’t enough. The Rams were able to hold on and keep building their lead. At the end of the game, Starmount took a 54-42 win to move on to the semifinals of the MVAC tournament.
The Rams will travel to West Wilkes on Feb. 15 to take on No. 1-ranked Wilkes Central at 8 p.m.