For most of the season, a cluster of conference teams have battled for the top MVAC spot.
On the final night of games in the regular season, that cluster yielded a lone squad atop the rankings.
In front of a packed house on senior night, the Starmount Rams lit up the basket all night, and buried the North Wilkes Vikings 79-55 for the 2010-2011 MVAC title.
We dont always score as well as we did tonight, but we always want to push tempo. That played a big part of the game tonight, said Starmount Coach Jeffery Hague.
The Rams used a fast-paced game from the opening tip off to push the pace.
For both teams, the first quarter was an offensive slugfest.
Jake Barr, Dylan Pardue, Fondae McDaniel, and Christian Hurt each hit three-pointers in the first to help push the team to a 21 point first quarter.
For the Vikings, 14 of their 16 points came from Timmy Johnson, who was 4-5 from beyond the arc in the first quarter.
We wanted to make sure he was shooting with a hand in his face. Hes just a good shooter. You have to give him credit, Hague said.
Although Johnson was hot in the first quarter, the up-tempo style of play the Rams used in the second quarter forced the Vikings to spread their offense.
Storm Clonch helped answer for six points in the second quarter, while Tyler Hall had five.
However, McDaniel snuffed out any fire the Vikings mustered in the second.
He drilled four three-pointers to boost the Rams to a 24-point second quarter.
By the end of the first half, the Rams held a staggering 45-33 lead over the Vikings.
North likes to play a lot of the same way we do, but I thought, all-in-all, our depth pushed it and sort of got them a little tired. Once that happened, the shots they were making early, they didnt make as many down towards the end, Hague said.
Although down, Garth Bailey got the Viking offense moving early in the third with a three, followed by a Storm Clonch two-pointer.
However, the Rams, led by Charlie Wagoner, erupted on a 21-2 run to finish the third quarter.
Although the Vikings were able to add another 14 in the fourth quarter, the Rams cruised to the win by adding another 15.
Both teams were lights-out from beyond the arc, shooting a combined 16 three-pointers in the game.
Timmy Johnson led all scorers with 18 points, including five three-pointers.
Fondae McDaniel led the Rams with 16, while Jake Barr added 14.
With the win over North securing the MVAC regular season title, and for Coach Hague, the win brings a welcomed sigh of relief.
In my opinion, its a tough league. A lot of people say its not as strong because there are so many teams that are equal. I think that shows how tough our league is. Who knows who is going to win the conference tournament, Hague said.
With the conference tournament beginning on Monday, Coach Hague credits capturing the top-seed as a big help for a playoff run.
If we had been that number two or number three seed we could have gotten bumped out or bumped down. Looking at the seedings, were right where we want to be. Thats one of the things we needed, that number one seed. That will help us a lot in the long run, as far as playoffs go, Hague said.
The Rams will begin their conference tournament on Monday at 6 p.m. when they host the East Wilkes Cardinals.
Starmount- 21 24 21 15- 79
North Wilkes- 16 17 8 14- 55
Starmount: Fondae McDaniel 16, Jake Barr 14, M.J. Bryant 11, Charlie Wagoner 9, Christian Hurt 8, Dillon Bray 6, Dylan Pardue 5, Alex Barr 5, Dillon Dobson 2, Jacob Riley 2, Austin Somers 1
North Wilkes: Timmy Johnson 18, Storm Clonch 14, Garth Bailey 11, Tyler Hall 5, Tyler Minton 3, Ryan Walsh 2, Logan Johnson 1, John Bowers 1
Starmount: Fondae McDaniel 4, Charlie Wagoner 1, Dylan Pardue 1, Jake Barr 1, Christian Hurt 1
North Wilkes: Timmy Johnson 5, Tyler Minton 1, Garth Bailey 1, Tyler Hall 1