ELKIN - The Buckin’ Elks kicked off their title run in a big way Monday night.
Top-seeded Elkin routed No. 8 Ashe County 66-48 in the opening round of the Mountain Valley Conference tournament to secure a berth in the semifinals Wednesday.
The Elks will meet rival Starmount in the semis Wednesday for the third time this season with a trip to the title game on the line.
“We started slow. We didn’t rebound the ball well in the first half. Our intensity level in the first half was awful,” head coach Kenneth Abrams explained. “So we talked about it at halftime and picked it up in the third quarter. We rebounded and played some good defense and got most of our points off layups because we picked up our intensity level.
“We just can’t do that with everybody we play. We have to put them away early and get them off our back. If we don’t, we already know what’s going to happen - we got bit earlier in the year,” he added. “It was a good team effort, I was proud of them. It was a good battle. We did a lot of things well in the second half.”
Elkin started slow against the Huskies Monday and only lead 11-9 after one.
After Ashe tied the game at 13-13 early in the second, the Elks began to slowly pull away. Elkin scored 13 of the final 17 points of the half to take a 26-17 edge into the locker room.
Abrams kept up the intensity, screaming at the team to “pick it up” to open the second half. The Elks responded, reeling off another big run to push their lead out to 41-23.
“We never looked back when we came out in third quarter and took a big lead. We started playing end-to-end, instead of playing on one end,” Abrams said.
Elkin continued its strong second half in the fourth, pouring in 21 points in the frame to breeze past the pesky Huskies 66-48 to punch its ticket into the semifinals.
Four Elks finished in double-figures in a dominant scoring night, led by Sam Lane’s 19 points. Trey King finished with 13, while Kody King added a dozen. Chris Hudspeth tacked on 11 points with Frank Miller adding eight.
“When you’re running under control, that’s going to happen,” Abrams said. “We ran under control all night, we just didn’t finish. If we would have finished our shots, the score would have been worse, and I wasn’t trying to run the score up. We were beating them down the floor.”
Elkin advances to the semifinals against bitter foe Starmount Wednesday night at East Wilkes High School.
The Elks swept the two regular-season meetings, but battled to escape with a 66-63 victory in the last meeting on Trey King’s thrilling buzzer-beating three as the Elkin student section rushed the court.
“We’re playing for the next championship, but we’re playing for the next game first,” Abrams added.
Expect more fireworks Wednesday. Tip off is set for 8:00 p.m.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.