RONDA — To East Wilkes Cardinals Head Coach Brad Davis, Wednesday night’s loss to nonconference Atkins might be a blessing in disguise, but for now, it creates an interesting playoff scenario.
After dropping its game to Elkin the night before, the Cardinals (9-14, 5-8 MVAC) fell 77-67 to visiting Atkins. Down 60-56 entering the fourth quarter, East Wilkes was forced out of its zone defense that had worked well in the third quarter as it cut Atkins’ lead significantly from halftime. However, the speed of the Camels was too much for the Cardinals to handle.
“They’re athletic, we didn’t play good man-to-man defense,” Davis said. “Especially in the second half they had really good ball rotation in the zone. [East Wilkes was] doing what we asked them to do, but were chasing the ball all around the floor.”
After opening up the second half forcing six fouls and allowing none, East Wilkes’ composure looked like it might have been the golden ticket to pulling off a comeback, but just two minutes later the Cardinals and Camels were equal on the foul total, with an opportunity wasted.
“We couldn’t really get in an offense, and that’s on us. It’s hard to play a team you really don’t know well. They’re physical,” Davis said.
Despite the physical play, the Cardinals outrebounded the Camels 34-25. There were definitely some takeaways from the loss that, being a non-conference game, they will take into consideration heavily Friday night and beyond as the team prepares for the conference playoffs.
“I told the guys in the locker room that we had them scheduled earlier in the season, we had to move it due to football. We’d love to see another team like that in the near future,” Davis said.
The Cardinals have a challenge on their hands Friday night on the road against North Wilkes, and Davis said there are likely some added stakes. The sense of urgency will be high in Hays, as Davis said he’d feel a lot better about state playoff chances if they pick up their 10th win in the regular season.
Ryan DeCosta can be reached at 336-258-4052 or via Twitter @rsdecosta.