ELKIN - After a string of tough-luck losses, the Buckin’ Elks closed out Mt. Airy Friday night in the final non-conference tune-up.
Elkin, riding a three-game losing streak by a combined five points, used a stingy full-court press and a long, third-quarter run to snap the skid and grab a 46-36 victory heading into Mountain Valley Conference play.
“After tonight’s win, it was a noisy locker room. We had some excited kids after a big win over Mt. Airy; they did a good job tonight,” head coach Kenneth Abrams said. “The kids are excited to get into conference play. We’re motivated right now and we’re excited about Tuesday night’s game.”
In a defensive struggle in the opening half, Mt. Airy grabbed an 8-7 lead after one and pushed the advantage to 21-14 at the halftime horn.
But coming out of the locker room, the Elks dialed up their defense. Elkin forced nine turnovers in a full-court press and kept the Granite Bears scoreless in the third quarter.
With a big lift from Josh Strickland, Elkin used an 18-0 in the frame to push ahead at 32-21 heading into the fourth.
“We had a good night. It was a slow first half but we regrouped at halftime,” Abrams explained. “We held them scoreless in the third quarter on an 18-0 run. We ran the full-court press the entire quarter and it really caused them some problems.”
After Mt. Airy managed to trim the lead down to 37-30 with less than two minutes remaining, the Elks were able to hit timely free throws and close out the victory, which Elkin struggled to do in its three losses this season.
The Elks, who improved to 2-3 on the season with the win, return to the court tomorrow night to tip off their conference slate against North Wilkes.
“Our non-conference schedule was brutal,” Abrams said. “We had East Surry, Mt. Airy, South Stokes and North Surry, but those non-conference games will get us ready for conference play. I feel that we are physically and mentally ready to get into conference play. In order to get better, you have to play good teams and all those schools have good basketball programs.
“We feel pretty confident going into Tuesday night’s game,” he added.
Senior Sam Lane, who scored 19 points against the Bears, enters the contest nine points shy of the 1,000 point mark.
In girls action, the Lady Elks fell to 0-5 on the year after an 82-32 loss to Mt. Airy in the opening game of the double-header.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.