As the Elkin boys closed out the first half of their basketball season with a loss to Alleghany Tuesday night, there was still reason to believe that they could win some games to close out the year.
The team proved that Wednesday night with a thrilling 58-50 win over South Iredell. As a team, every player pitched in and delivered their fans the most exciting game of the season thus far. In contrast to the night before, Elkin (1-12, 0-4 MVAC) made sure it would not have the same results.
“Last night after the game, I sat down and talked to them and went over the same thing I’ve gone over with all year long,” Elkin Head Coach Kenneth Abrams said. He told them, “‘You’ve got to rebound the basketball, and you’ve got to play defense.’ Tonight, it was the first time we out-rebounded a team all year.”
Elkin didn’t start two of its seniors, Clint Henderson and Tyler Cockerham, who had started all season long, and it appeared to light a fire in them as they came off the bench ready to play. Cockerham and Henderson each played key roles in erasing a second-half deficit, with nine points and 11 points, respectively.
“That’d annoy me too if a sophomore started ahead of me, so my strategy worked, and I’m glad it did. The biggest difference tonight was that we played team basketball for four quarters,” Abrams said.
Momentum seems to always be a key word in a basketball game, and South Iredell had it midway through the second quarter, going on a 9-0 run.
“Once you give up a 9-0 run, the fuel is burning on one end, and your fire is out, and we got the timeout, and I said, ‘We can’t go back to our old style of playing,’ so we responded,” Abrams said.
Their response? A 5-0 run of their own to close out the half down 28-23. By the end of the third quarter, the Buckin’ Elks had whittled down South Iredell’s lead to three. The fourth quarter would feature back and forth action that was exciting to watch.
Every time Elkin tied it up, South Iredell would respond. However, down 46-44 with 4:04 remaining, one big 3-pointer by senior Trevor Nance put Elkin up for good. Nance’s 3-pointer triggered a 7-0 run. As both teams started to get into the bonus, free throws and rebounds became crucial, as Eli Brown, Jonah Christian and Tyler Cockerham each hit the free throw line, and Henderson came up with a big offensive rebound on a miss on a one-and-one.
As the court began to open up late, the Buckin’ Elks kept finding Nance for layups to put the game away. Nance finished with 16 points, nine of which came in the fourth. The whole team contributed in the fourth, and they’d need all 19 of their points for sure.
“We were waiting on this win for a while. It was a team effort. I was proud of all of them. Rebounding and defense won that ballgame,” Abrams said.
The Buckin’ Elks will have another challenge on their hands Friday night as they host the North Wilkes Vikings (6-6, 2-1 MVAC). That game is scheduled to start at the conclusion of the Lady Elks game.
Ryan DeCosta can be reached at 336-258-4052 or via Twitter @rsdecosta.