ELKIN — It took the Lady Elks 10 games to notch their first Mountain Valley Conference victory last season.
They got it out of the way this year in a hurry.
Elkin battled back from 13 points down to stun Ashe County 53-49 Tuesday night in the conference opener for both teams at N.H. Carpenter Gymnasium.
“We played from behind most of the night, it was like we were a half-step behind, but we kept battling,” Head Coach Derek Carter said. “I thought the key was right there before the half. We got some buckets and some steals and cut it to six. That was nice going in.
“In the third quarter, it was a good team effort. Everyone contributed tonight, especially on defense. We held them there and held them to four points in the fourth quarter,” he added.
“Free throws finished the deal. I told them that once we got ahead, I saw our energy level go up, and I was tickled to death.”
The Elks came flying out of the gates, scoring the first six points of the game, and lead 8-6 midway through the frame.
But the Huskies responded and used a 27-15 run over 11 minutes of game-time to grab a seemingly comfortable 33-20 advantage with 1:15 to play in the half — their largest lead of the night.
Carrie Brown then drained a long three before hitting a layup as Elkin scored the final seven points of the half to head into the locker room within striking distance at 33-27 in what proved to be the turning point of the game.
Coming out of the break, the Elks dialed up the defensive pressure in a full-court press, forcing eight turnovers in the third quarter alone. But despite the pressure, Ashe maintained its seven-point cushion at the end of three, 45-38.
Heading into the final frame, Elkin mixed in efficiency on the offensive end with the suffocating full-court press, scoring the first eight points to grab its first lead since the first quarter, 46-45.
The Elks kept Ashe in check in the fourth, limiting the Huskies to just four points in the stanza.
From there, Elkin knocked down 7-of-10 free throws to seal the huge 53-49 victory.
“I told the kids to keep battling, and they played hard,” Carter said. “It feels good to get the first conference win. We already matched our win total from last year. We’ll grow from here.”
Courtney Beals powered the Elks’ comeback with 18 points, while Brown added a dozen. Makayla Dimmette tallied eight points with Madeline Carter adding five. Starmount transfer Miracle Walters recorded four points and seven blocks to lead Elkin’s defensive charge.
The Elks improve to 2-5 on the year and 1-0 in league play — matching last seasons’ win total already (2-23). But Carter said no drastic changes were made to the team, just another year of experience.
“We’ve added a couple new faces, but really it’s the same kids as last year, just a year older,” Carter explained. “We looked at film from Ashe last year and we’ve gotten bigger. We’ve added a couple from JV and Starmount, but our kids have worked really hard.
“Experience made a difference for our guards. We’re a little bit bigger and we’re not shell-shocked that it’s a varsity game.”
Elkin will be put to the test again tonight against Surry Central (5-1). The Golden Eagles battled to the 53-45 victory in the first meeting last Friday in a strong showing by the Elks.
“We have Surry Central Friday and we’ll have to prepare for one of the best teams in Western North Carolina,” Carter added.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.