ELKIN — If Elkin fans remember only one moment from Friday night’s game at N.H. Carpenter Gymnasium, it’ll be the shot.
The 3-point shot taken by senior Miracle Walters that gave the Lady Elks a 51-41 lead in the closing moments of a 58-50 win over North Wilkes.
The play, not by design, pushed Walters past the 1,000-point mark in her career. Senior Morgan Randleman found Walters, who had an open shot and decided to have a go at it.
As the shot went in, the crowd erupted after a North Wilkes timeout as the announcement was made, but there was no pomp and circumstance. To the team, there was still a game to finish.
“When she hit it, I was more worried about the game,” said coach Derek Carter. “Initially we were going to stop the game and I said no, no, no, no, no, no. We’re in this. Focus on this game. We need this game.”
The Lady Elks (14-0, 5-0 MVAC) and the North Wilkes Vikings (12-1, 3-1 MVAC) came into Friday night as the last two undefeated teams in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference.
Carter said he’s always treated the 1,000-point mark for any player as a team thing. Someone has to pass the ball, or rebound it, or play defense on the other end of the court. Luckily for Elkin, the girls put out a spectacular effort to come out of Friday night as the last undefeated team in the MVAC.
“We didn’t talk about it … until tonight, I said, ‘Girls, you’ve put yourself in a position to be here, so let’s just stay here,’” Carter said. “I’m excited for the girls. You wish a game like this could count two or three times, but you put one win down and you get ready for the next one.”
The 3-pointers kept coming in from both sides, and it seemed like every time Elkin had one, it came when the team needed it most.
Walters hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer sounded at the end of the first quarter which gave Elkin its first lead of the game. Junior Samantha Cozart hit one in the second quarter that put them back on top, then senior Cassidy Cook hit one toward the end of the first half to kill the momentum that North Wilkes had been building on.
In the second half, 3-pointers were big again. During the first possession of the fourth quarter and with a 36-35 lead, junior Cameron Beals hit a key 3-pointer before Walters’ big one gave her her 1,001st point. Walters finished with 14 points, and now has 1,003 career points to her name. Other notables were junior Laken Brown, whose 3 points in the first quarter were part of a momentum shift that changed the outcome of the game.
“We had eight players score tonight more than one point, we had girls with six and seven, Kylie [Thomas] had 10. … It’s hard to guard a team like that,” Carter said.
“They stepped up huge in a really big game,” Walters said. “We needed them, and I’m really proud of them for that.”
The next big challenge for the girls won’t be on the court, but rather the classroom, as final exams are this week. The Lady Elks spring back into action Friday night on the road against East Wilkes (6-4, 4-0 MVAC).
Ryan DeCosta can be reached at 336-258-4052 or via Twitter @rsdecosta.