But the Rams do have plenty of company now on top of the league standings.
Starmount, North Surry, Wilkes Central and Ashe County all enter this week with one conference loss. Ashe lost to Starmount. North Surry lost to Ashe. Wilkes Central lost to North Surry and now Starmount has lost to North Surry.
The Rams made a hard run at overtaking the Greyhounds on Friday night, rallying from a 12-point third-quarter deficit. Senior forward Victor Davila asserted himself for 10 straight points, and Starmount pulled within one at 39-38 heading into the final period.
A Shane Bryant jumper gave the Rams a brief lead at 42-41 with 5:24 remaining, but North Surry ripped off nine straight points to retake command. Brandon West canned a pair of three-pointers from the left wing to begin the surge.
Starmount got as close as 52-49 coming down the stretch after a Davila three-point play with 40.5 seconds remaining. But North Surry sealed the game with four free throws. Antonio McClelland's three-pointer at the buzzer made the final margin four points.
"It was a good win, and it puts us up towards the top of the conference again," North coach Chris Butler said. "It's exciting to win in this environment."
Like many teams this season, North Surry used a variety of defenses to pack around Davila, Starmount's 6-9 Virginia Tech commitment. While Davila finished with 23 points, it was rough going for him at times, especially in the opening half. Guards had a tough time feeding him late in the game as well.
"Like everyone, we want to make it a tough as possible for (Davila) to get the ball," Butler said. "For the most part we did a good job ... We mixed up our defenses. Steven Simmons, J.B. Coram and Triston Kyle all did good job of post defense."
Starmount, which tied North Surry for the regular season league title a year ago then lost to the Greyhounds at the buzzer in the MVAC tourney finale, dropped to 6-7 overall, 3-1 in the MVAC. North Surry improved to 7-8, 4-1.
Jordan Haynes led North Surry's scoring with 18 points. Lee Martin added 17 points and 10 rebounds. West finished with 11 points.
Chris Cowles finished with 11 points for the Rams, making some layups after steals to spark the third-quarter comeback. Bryant finished with six points.
The Rams will have a bit of breather this week from game action, taking off until Friday for semester exams. Wilkes Central visits Boonville on Friday.
In the girls' game, Whitley Culler and Alicia Wallace accounted for more than half of North Surry's points, and the Greyhounds topped Starmount 59-43.
Culler netted 27, while Wallace poured in 16 more, with eight rebounds. North Surry held onto its conference lead, improving to 5-0, 11-2 overall. Starmount dropped to 1-4, 6-8.
The Rams played the Hounds close for a quarter, trailing 15-13. While North Surry took a 30-19 lead into the halftime locker room, Starmount battled back to pull within 39-33 in the third quarter. From there, though, the Greyhounds surged to streak to a 16-point victory margin. North closed the third quarter on a 7-0 run.
"Our biggest thing was rebounds," Starmount coach Kyle Hutchens said. "Alicia Wallace did a great job of hitting the boards for them. We didn't box out and gave them way too many second chances."
Mary Katherine Taylor hit a three-pointer to start the game and finished with 20 points for Starmount. Jordan Raye added nine points.
"Offensively, I thought (Starmount) had a hard time defending Whitley and Wallace," North Surry coach Shane Slate said. "The two were able to get shots inside and out. Defensively, we played well in stretches, but they hit five 3's on us. We didn't do as good of a job closing out as we could've."
* * *
Starmount's varsity teams tuned up for their showdowns with North Surry by sweeping Reagan in non-conference action last Wednesday.
The Rams beat Reagan 58-55 in the boys contest and topped the Raiders 57-48 in girls action.
Victor Davila had a solid game in the post for Starmount, scoring 23 points. He did most of his damage after halftime. Shane Bryant (12 points) and Chris Cowles (10) also reached double figures in scoring for the Rams.
Starmount outscored Reagan in each of the first three quarters, eventually building a 43-35 lead before the Raiders battled back into contention. Jake Barr and Matt Brown scored six points apiece for the Rams.
In girls action, Starmount snapped a three-game losing streak with its win over the 0-11 Raiders. A quick start paved the way, with the Rams outscoring Reagan 26-17 in the opening half.
Jordan Raye netted 17 points for Starmount, with Mary Katherine Taylor added 13 and Meme Brown 12.
Starmount teams will be at home this Friday, hosting Wilkes Central. Tuesday night brings a trip to Surry Central
North Surry Girls 59, Starmount 43 Friday * at Boonville
North Surry 15 15 16 13 -- 59
Starmount 13 6 14 10 -- 43
NORTH SURRY - Whitley Culler 25, Hodges 5, Bullins 3, Campbell 6, Rumplasch 2, Alicia Wallace 18
STARMOUNT - Doss 2, Mary-Katherine Taylor 20, Bledsoe 5, Rae 9, Brown 5, Hutchens 2
North Surry Boys 56, Starmount 52 Friday * at Boonville
North Surry 10 16 13 17 -- 56
Starmount 8 11 19 14 -- 52
NORTH SURRY - Jordan Haynes 18, Hiatt 6, Lee Martin 17, Simmons 4, Brandon West 11
STARMOUNT - Chris Cowles 11, Bryant 6, McCLelland 3, Barr 4, Victor Davila 23, Spicer 4, Johnson 1.