DOBSON — Tuesday night’s showdown between visiting Starmount and Surry Central was a tale of three games in one.
The Rams opened the game like gangbusters, taking it to Central from the opening tap and hitting four 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes en route to an early 23-7 lead. But just when it looked like Starmount was going to run its hosts out of their own gym, Central came alive.
Over the last five and a half minutes of the second quarter, the Golden Eagles outscored Starmount 20-8 and climbed back into the game. Central continued to outplay Starmount in the third quarter, a period that saw the Eagles have five possessions and even more shots that would have tied or potentially took the lead, only to be denied by the Rams’ defense on each occasion.
Finally, in the fourth quarter, the home team seemed to run out of gas, and Starmount stretched its lead back out on the way to a 67-50 road victory.
The Rams scorched the nets early on, as sophomore Trey Dezern hit a pair of treys and teammates Ethan Barnes and Brendan Eads had one each. About 35 seconds after Eads hit his long-range shot, he finished off a fastbreak with 5:46 left in the first half to give the visitors a 23-7 lead.
Seventeen seconds later, Central senior Mason Wood scored on a putback, and the Eagle rally was on.
Starmount still led by a dozen when Blake Woods got inside and scored off a putback while drawing a foul from the Rams. He made the bonus free throw and cut the deficit back to single digits at 28-19. Then, after an empty trip for the visitors, Kevin Montero knocked down a short jumper. The Eagles got another stop and Woods stepped outside, hitting a three of his own from the top of the key to pull his team within 28-24.
Eads stopped the bleeding for Starmount by hitting another three with 36 seconds left in the half, but Brandon Norman let fly at the halftime buzzer and hit nothing but net for Central.
When the Rams pushed the lead back to seven early in the third quarter, Norman had two straight plays where he took the ball the length of the court and scored, slicing the gap back to 35-32. Then Eads jawed a bit too much on a foul call and drew a technical, allowing Norman to sink two free throws and get his team within a point. Over the next few minutes, with the score at 35-34, 37-36, 40-38, 42-40 and 46-44, Central had many chances to tie or take the lead but was unable to do so. With 43 seconds left in the third, the Rams scored and moved back in front by four going to the final eight minutes.
Starmount put it away early in the fourth quarter. Griffin Cass opened up with a pair of free throws 11 seconds in. Moments later, he stole the ball, which led to Eric Wiles driving the ball to the basket for a 50-42 lead. Then Central turned the ball over, and the Rams scored again to lead by 10 points after just over a minute had ticked off the clock. When Dezern hit from three at the 5:54 mark, the lead was 55-43 and would never again drop below single digits.
The Eagles are off until next Tuesday night, when they host county rival East Surry. The Friday night home game scheduled against Mount Airy has been rescheduled for Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 due to the Granite Bears’ ongoing football season.
Starmount will travel to Forbush on Friday night.