RONDA — Starmount basketball coach Jeffrey Hague isn’t sure why center Garrett Johnson chose to wear the No. 14 the past two seasons.
That’s now a sacred number in Rams basketball lore, the one worn by the school’s all-time points and rebounds leader Victor Davila, now a sophomore playing for Virginia Tech.
Regardless of his intentions, Johnson had a performance Friday night against East Wilkes that did the number proud. The forward/center scored 17 points, including 11 in the first half, and grabbed seven rebounds to pace the Rams past the Cardinals 47-21.
The senior big man used his size to his advantage from the outset, helping Starmount take command early and enjoy a double-digits lead most of the night.
“I think he is growing with confidence,” Hague said of Johnson. “This may sound crazy, but I think he’s got the ability, maybe not to be a Victor — not to the point of a D1 player — but he brings a lot to the table like Victor did.
“His biggest thing is he’s just got to slow down and play the game and he’ll be fine. He’s got skills and great athletic ability.”
The Rams as a whole showcased their athletic ability against East Wilkes, which is still seeking its first win of the winter campaign.
One night after losing an emotional game at home to rival Forbush, Starmount still had the legs to build a 17-3 lead by early in the second quarter. Dylan Pardue and Christian Hurt each buried three-pointers in the first period. Meanwhile, Johnson worked inside for three buckets and earned foul shots after another trip in the paint.
“It’s hard to come off an emotional game like Forbush and then come into a game like this and bring some energy,” Hague said. “But our kids found it somehow to do it. We had strong point guard play. That helped out our big men.”
East Wilkes got as close as 10 points at 21-11 after a bucket by Micah Bryan. But the Rams steadily built their lead back out to 15 points by midway through the third period.
Starmount (4-7 overall, 3-4 Mountain Valley 1A/2A) held East to just two points in the final quarter. The Cardinals’ last two came on a basket by Cody Billings with 5:20 left.
East Wilkes coach Justin Call said his team enjoyed better shot selection than in a loss to Alleghany earlier in the week. The rim just wasn’t that forgiving yet again. The Cardinals finished only five of 17 from the line to add to their woes.
“I thought it was different than the Alleghany game in that I thought the Alleghany game we got outhustled and outplayed,” Call said. “Tonight, we were getting looks that we want in our offense ... We executed some of our offensive stuff and got some cuts. We just couldn’t put it in — at the foul line, two-footers, little jumpers.”
Johnson was the only player in double figures for the night. Pardue added eight points for Starmount. Barr scored five points, while Eugene Billips, Fondae McDaniel and M.J. Bryant each scored four.
Hurt had nine assists against only one turnover. Billips swiped four steals.
Micah Bryan was East’s leading scorer with eight points. Cody Billings scored seven. Bryan also had eight rebounds, six steals and a block. Shoupe made five rebounds and two steals.
Both teams will be off from games until Friday. East Wilkes will be home for its next three contests, starting with Friday against Forbush. Starmount hosts West Wilkes on Friday.
Starmount 47, East Wilkes 21
Friday • at Ronda
Starmount 14 10 10 13 — 47
East Wilkes 3 10 6 2 — 21
STARMOUNT — Eugene Billips 4, Fondae McDaniel 4, Jake Barr 5, Dylan Pardue 8, Garrett Johnson 17, Christian Hurt 3, M.J. Bryant 4, Jacob Riley 2.
EAST WILKES — Caleb Shoupe 4, Micah Bryan 8, Cody Billings 7, Jordan Jackson 2.