BOONVILLE - The freshmen-laden Lady Rams head into playoff action riding three-straight quality performances on the court.
After topping Alleghany and East Wilkes in succession, Starmount gave regular-season champion North Wilkes all they could handle Friday on Senior Night before running out of gas late and falling 70-60.
“We’re very proud of the kids. They beat us by 40 up there, so we wanted the girls not to worry,” head coach Doug Chilton explained. “We know that we are out-manned by their size and skill. I thought we shot the ball well in the first half - we were very focused and very intense. I don’t think they excepted that of us.”
In a high-scoring first half, North and Starmount traded buckets in a back-and-forth opening 16 minutes of play.
The Vikings jumped out to a big 24-16 lead at the end of one before the Lady Rams stormed back. Starmount cut the lead down to one at 35-34 late in the second on a Darion Dobson.
A veteran North squad only lead 43-39 at the break as the young Rams hung tough.
In the second half, the Vikings’ size down low began to overpower Starmount. North pushed its lead out to 59-43 at the end of the third behind a dominating edge on the glass.
The Vikings put the finishing touches on the 70-60 victory down the stretch, spoiling Heaven Walters’ Senior Night.
“Just the intensity changed for them. They were a little more physical in the second half and it was allowed to be played that way. And that was very much to our disadvantage,” Chilton said.
Dobson poured in a team-high 16 points to lead the Lady Rams, while Walters added 15 in her final game on the home court. Miracle Walters tacked on 13 points.
After a slow start to the season, Starmount finished with a 5-11 record in league play as the No. 7 seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
Chilton said the team is confident heading into the postseason.
“If we play as well as we played in the first half tonight, get a game like that, we could possibly beat [West Wilkes],” he said. “We beat them here and were ahead by one last time up there. We can play with them if we have a good game.
“This was as close to a playoff-game atmosphere that we would get. I thought the kids responded to it very well,” Chilton added.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.