MILLERS CREEK — The Starmount Rams men’s basketball team was looking to capture back-to-back Mountain Valley Athletic Conference tournament championship wins with a win over Wilkes Central on Wednesday night. Unfortunately for the Rams, the Eagles took a late lead that lead to a 48-40 win to advance to the finals of the MVAC tournament.
Both teams were trying to shake off the tournament jitters as the game remained 0-0 until the midway point of the first period. The Eagles were able to score first, but they didn’t hold on to the lead for long as Griffin Cass tied the game with a two-point shot from the top of the key. With a 2-2 game, both teams started to put up an extra effort on defense. The Eagles were able to score on their next possession to take a 5-2 lead, and Starmount found itself down three points and up against a powerhouse defensive team.
The Eagles had the Rams in a tight spot as Wilkes Central closed every gap when Starmount tried to crash towards the basket. The Rams were finally able to break through the wall as Coach Rocky Horton called out a play that had Houston Nicks wide open under the basket. Cass fed the ball to Nicks who put the Rams on the board with a lay-up.
On Starmount’s next possession, Nicks gave the Rams their first lead of the night as he put up another shot to give Starmount a 6-5 lead. Wilkes Central was able to score another basket to take back the lead, but the Rams put up a basket of their own as Trey Dezern made two free-throws to give Starmount an 8-7 lead at the end of the first period.
Dezern kept things going for the Rams as he opened up the second period with a three-point shot to take Starmount’s lead to four points. Wilkes Central was able to put up a two-point shot to cut Starmount’s lead to two points, but on the next few possessions, both teams battled back and forth on defense.
For three minutes, neither team was able to score until Wiles put up a three-point shot for Starmount. With time winding down, Wilkes Central scored nine points and held the Rams to just three points. The Eagles were able to take back the lead, 18-17, going into halftime.
After the half, Wilkes Central came out firing and the Rams seemed to have burnt out their energy in the first half. The Eagles put up 15 points in the third period, and held Starmount to just seven points. Starmount was able to tie the game twice, but the Eagles went on a scoring run late in the third as the team scored nine points and held the Rams to zero.
At the end of the third, Wilkes Central had a nine-point lead and the Rams had eight minutes to find a way out of the hole.
The final period saw Starmount outscore the Eagles, 16-15, but it wasn’t enough as the Eagles were able to take a 48-40 win.
The Eagles move on to the MVAC finals, which will be held Friday night at West Wilkes. Starmount will have to wait to see if it made the state playoffs, as the NCHSAA playoff seeding will be released next week.