ELKIN - The Buckin’ Elks picked up their first Mountain Valley Conference victory Tuesday night against North Wilkes while senior Sam Lane reached an historic career milestone.
On a night billed ‘Sam Lane Night,’ the senior scored his 1,000th career point in an Elkin uniform in the third quarter, while leading his team to a thrilling, back-and-forth 52-44 victory over North Wilkes in the conference opener for both squads.
“We got out-hustled and out-rebounded in the entire game, especially in the first half,” head coach Kenneth Abrams explained. “We jumped out to that 10-0 lead and then we relaxed. They started getting second and third shots and just flat out out-hustled us. They got after it.
“Overall, our defense got us back in the game in the third quarter with the press. We’re glad to get the win. I’m not pleased with the boards offensively or defensively, but I’ll take an ugly win any day,” he added.
With the excitement of Lane’s accomplishment building, the Elks stormed out of the gate, scoring the first 10 points of the game and held the Vikings scoreless for nearly five and a half minutes to open the contest.
North Wilkes withstood the early barrage and tied the game midway through the second quarter at 15-15. The Vikings held Elkin to 10 points over the final 11 minutes of the half, while closing on a 6-2 run to take a 24-20 lead into the locker room.
“When you go up big and then the other team makes a run, they take the momentum,” Abrams said. “Now you’re playing against their momentum and you’re struggling with what you’re doing. And that’s what we did.”
Less than a minute into the third quarter, Lane hit his patented turnaround, mid-range jumper to reach the historic milestone. After being recognized by the crowd, the senior put the team on his back and started Elkin’s comeback.
“Personally, I think Sam was a little nervous,” Abrams said. “His shot were either short or long; he was trying to get them too fast. But once he got that 1,000th point, I think it took a load off him. You could see he and the team relax more. He started finishing.”
Lane and fellow senior Trey King reeled off nine of the first 11 points of the half - highlighted by another thunderous King slam - as the Elks retook the lead at 29-26.
A Frank Miller put-back gave Elkin a 33-29 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.
North scored five-straight points to cut the lead down to one at 35-34, but Lane converted an ‘and-1’ opportunity before Miller converted back-to-back three-point plays to push the advantage back out to 10 at 44-34.
Elkin made enough plays on both ends of the floor to hold off a scrappy Vikings side and pull out the 52-44 victory.
Lane powered the Elks with 17 points on his big night, while King added 16. Miller tacked on 13 with nine of those points coming in the decisive fourth quarter.
Elkin followed up Tuesday’s conference victory with a thrilling 53-52 overtime win at South Stokes Wednesday night.
Miller’s layup at the regulation buzzer was called off, sending the contest to an extra session knotted up at 42-42.
The Sauras took a four-point lead late in overtime, but Kody King grabbed an offensive board and laid it back up to cut the lead to 47-45. Lane drilled a three to bring the Elks within one at 51-50 with 12.6 ticks left.
After South hit 1-of-2 free throws, senior Chris Hudspeth nailed a three at the buzzer to give Elkin the thrilling 53-52 victory.
The Elks (4-3, 1-0) return to action tonight when they travel up the mountain to take on 1A rival Alleghany.
“We’re getting there,” Abrams said. “We have to get more mental toughness. Any coach will tell you that you have to rebound and play defense and you’ll score, so we have to do those two things.”
For the full feature story on Lane’s accomplishment, check out Monday’s Tribune.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.