PILOT MOUNTAIN - In their final non-conference tilt of the season, the Buckin’ Elks were “flat out, out-hustled,” according to coach Kenneth Abrams.
East Surry hung on down the stretch to knock off Elkin for the second time this year, picking up a hard-fought, physical 67-57 victory Wednesday night in Pilot Mountain.
“We flat out got out-hustled tonight,” head coach Kenneth Abrams said. “We got out-hustled on both ends of the court to make a long story short. That’s a good ball team. You’re going to have nights like that.
“We’re going to bounce back. That’s our last non-conference game and we’re going to learn from this. You have to play 94 feet every night; you don’t just play 94 feet on Tuesday and then play 54 feet on Wednesday, it doesn’t work that way. We’ll be alright,” he continued.
The Elks came out strong, matching every score early on.
Sam Lane converted an old-fashioned three-point play to give Elkin a 7-6 advantage midway through the fourth. After trading buckets, the Cardinals grabbed a 12-11 lead after one.
The Elks used a quick 7-2 burst to open the second to grab an 18-14 lead on a Frank Miller jumper.
But back-to-back treys put East Surry late in the half, a lead they would never relinquish.
After taking a 29-27 advantage into the locker room, the Cardinals scored 11 of the first 13 points to open the second half to grab a double-digit lead at 40-29, leading to an Abrams timeout.
Trey King hit a layup in the final seconds of the third to bring Elkin back within five at 49-44 heading to the final period.
On the first possession of the fourth, Chris Hudspeth stole the ball and hit an open layup on the fast break to trim the deficit down to three at 49-46.
But East responded with a 9-2 run to push its lead back out double figures. The Elks were unable to get closer than eight points down the stretch, dropping their second game to the Cardinals on the season.
“We kept making runs. We cut it to three then we blow a layup. Then we missed a couple free throws. It was a lot of little things here and there. When you start doing the little things wrong, the big things are going to hurt you,” Abrams explained. “We shot the ball terribly. We couldn’t hit any shots and our defense wasn’t good at all.
“It was an off night. We’re not making excuses, but we played bad,” he continued. “We’ll bounce back. I’m proud of my kids because they’re not happy right now, and that means a lot to me. I didn’t chew them out, they’re just not happy, and that tells me that they care.”
In the “off night,” King was the only Elk to score in double-figures, recording 19 points on the night, while leading-scorer Lane was held to just seven. Hudspeth finished with six points, while five other players tacked on five points apiece.
“You have to have your big players step up, at least one of them every night, and they didn’t tonight,” Abrams said.
The Elks (10-5, 7-0 in Mountain Valley Conference) look to bounce back this week, finishing off their four-game road trip. Elkin returns to the court Tuesday night against West Wilkes in Millers Creek before taking on North Wilkes Friday night.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.