BOONVILLE — Rivals clashed in Boonville Wednesday night as the second edition of the Battle of the Bridge took place between Starmount and Elkin.
Girls: Elkin 70 – Starmount 33
The Lady Elks were strong across the board, topping the Rams 70-33 in what eventually became a blowout. It didn’t look like one at first.
The Rams (3-14, 2-6 MVAC) pulled out to a 6-0 run early, but Elkin made sure they’d respond in a big way. The Lady Elks (16-1, 7-1 MVAC) went on an 18-2 run that the Rams could never recover from.
“We just didn’t get out of the gate,” Elkin Head Coach Derek Carter said. “They got several offensive rebounds and that killed us right there. We changed our press, and that seemed to work.”
Part of the reason that worked was that Elkin began to force turnovers, and get easy points off of them. In the first quarter, senior Kenly Burchette and junior Kylie Thomas combined for 20 of the 23 points, with the majority of them coming on two-on-one opportunities after forcing a turnover.
“You don’t have to go into that half-court offense and that’s what we try to do. Fortunately we started getting our hands on some balls and we finished,” Carter said.
Burchette and Thomas were two of three Lady Elks to hit double digits, as senior Miracle Walters added 10 on the night.
Starmount has been working heavily on keeping the intensity level up for an entire 32 minutes. With a young team, they have competed in spurts but have struggled to maintain it. When they’ve managed to do so, they’ve emerged as winners or messed with some of the best teams in the conference.
“Emotionally, it’s a rival game so we started out good, but as the game went on they picked up their play and we didn’t respond,” Starmount Head Coach Jeffrey Hague said. “Everything goes back to working hard, and at times this year we’re competing in sports. When we can finally get over the top and play a full game at a high level, I think everything’s going to be good.”
The Lady Elks distributed the ball well again, with all but one player joining the scoring. It’s not the first time the team has come close to pulling off the feat this season.
Boys: Starmount 63 – Elkin 33
Sometimes, rebounding is a stat that gets overlooked, but in Wednesday night’s game, it definitely shouldn’t.
The Rams (9-8, 7-1 MVAC) outrebounded the Buckin’ Elks (1-16, 0-8 MVAC) 38-17, and with that pulled away for a 63-33 win. Senior Kyler Gregory had 26 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks while sophomore Griffin Cass had 12 points, five assists and five rebounds. Each rebound gave the team another chance to score, and they made sure to capitalize.
“We have so many people that want to go get the ball and they’re willing to sacrifice themselves, attack the boards and when you get second and third chances, that’s a huge difference in a ballgame,” Starmount Head Coach Rocky Horton said.
Horton said he also was impressed at how the players that came off of the bench looked motivated and ready to be a pivotal part to growing the Rams’ lead.
“We talked about when you go in, it doesn’t mean try to do something crazy to show that you’re supposed to be good. Just go out and play hard. The biggest thing for them is to play hard and they did a great job tonight.”
Elkin started to claw its way back after falling behind near the end of the first quarter, but Starmount made a concerted effort to bury the Buckin’ Elks in the second quarter. Despite not playing in eight days, the Rams shook off the cobwebs with an 8-0 run to start out the second stanza.
“Our defense was a little lazy, but they definitely picked it up in the second quarter,” Horton said. “We haven’t touched a ball in a week, so that might be part of it.”
For the Buckin’ Elks, the effort was much improved compared to their earlier loss to Starmount. That game was arguably the worst for them all season as they were down 20-0 at the end of the first quarter. The team has improved since that game, even grabbing its first win against South Iredell earlier this month.
“We’re not winning games, but we’ve gotten better,” Elkin Head Coach Kenneth Abrams said as he noted what it will take to improve. “Being consistent for four quarters… comes with experience, and you can’t coach experience. So we’re working on the small things right now because when the small things are working, the big things will handle themselves.”
Next up for Starmount girls and boys is a home game Friday night against East Wilkes. Elkin will host Alleghany Friday night.
Ryan DeCosta can be reached at 336-258-4052 or via Twitter @rsdecosta.