It was senior night Friday in Moravian Falls, but it was also the youth brigade that boosted the Wilkes Central varsity boys past North Wilkes, 69-52.
“It was a great night for our team,” said Central’s coach, Matt Hagaman. “Our team continues to work hard each day to improve and I felt like we had our best game so far” against the Vikings.
Junior guard Spencer Leatherman had five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 21 points for the Eagles. His first trey spotted the Eagles their first lead, 11-10, with two minutes left in the first quarter.
“Spencer’s shooting was a spark for us—he was on fire,” said Hagaman, whose club improved to 4-3, good for third place in the Mountain Valley 1A/2A Athletic Conference.
The Vikings were competitive early. Caleb Souther connected on a short jumper in the lane with a couple seconds left in the first, spotting the Vikings a 14-13 lead after a quarter of play.
But Central went on a 10-3 run to open the second quarter. A two-point field goal by Smith and a 3-pointer and layup by Anthony Graham gave Central a 20-16 lead. Then Graham penetrated the Viking defense and made another short jumper for a 24-16 lead with 4:55 left in the half, prompting a timeout by North Coach Logan Call.
“Anthony was great at setting the pace all night,” said Hagaman of his sophomore point guard, who finished with 17 points. “His understanding of when to go and when to slow things down is key and he did a good job managing that.”
Leatherman’s second 3-pointer made it 29-20 with 2:40 remaining in the first half. Graham fed Leatherman for another 3-pointer from the right wing a minute before halftime for a 33-22 Eagle lead.
Central senior Jamairius Allen followed up Leatherman’s 3-point miss in the lane just seconds before the halftime buzzer to give the Eagles a 35-23 lead at the break.
“I was also really pleased with our inside play: Jonah (Brooks), Kamen (Smith), Brian (Hartley) and Jamairius are really starting to work well together in and around the basket—they played tough,” added Hagaman.
Graham dished to Leatherman for trey number four, which made it 40-29 with five and a half minutes left in the third period.
North’s Zack Carlton drained a 3-pointer with five minutes remaining in the third to reduce the Central lead to 40-32.
Zach Wyatt hit a 3-pointer off of a feed from Carlton, making it 42-35 with less than five minutes left in the third.
North’s Bryan Johnson sank a 10-footer to bring the Vikings within five points, 42-37, with about four minutes remaining in the third.
Brooks, who had 13 points, completed a three-point play after an offensive rebound to expand the Central lead to 48-37 with 1:42 left in the third.
Carlton, who finished with 10 points, made a pair of free throws with 0.8 seconds left, and Central’s advantage was 52-43 going into the final period.
North’s Grayson Lamb swished a 3-pointer with 7:25 left in the game, making it 52-46, but the Vikings would get no closer to the hosts.
Leatherman sank his fifth and final trey of the night with 5:50 left, boosting the Central lead to 57-49. Moments later, Graham made a steal and fed Leatherman for another layin and a double-digit lead for the Eagles.
After being recognized before the game, seniors Zach Mastin, Brooks, Allen, Hartley and Bryce Smithey made the start for the Eagles. “I can’t say enough good things about this group of seniors. They are great guys and we are grateful for their dedication to the Eagle basketball program,” said Hagaman.
Junior center Reese Cleary paced the Vikings, who slipped to 2-5, with 16 points.
After Leatherman and Graham, Kamen Smith chipped in with 10 points for the Eagles. Mastin and Allen each had four.
Starmount foils West
The West Wilkes varsity boys were upended by Starmount in Millers Creek on Monday, 68-57.
The contest was tied at 49-all with four minutes left to play before the Rams reeled off nine straight points to take control with under two minutes remaining.
The Blackhawks led 24-19 at halftime. No further details could be obtained by press time on Tuesday.
Starmount bettered its record to 3-3 while West saw its mark dip to 2-5.
North rallies at Elkin
The North Wilkes boys rallied past host Elkin on Monday, 43-42.
North Coach Logan Call said his club trailed by as many as 15 points but “our guys never gave up and continued to battle. It was great to see our guys make big plays late and handle Elkin’s full court pressure as well they did.”
Call said that junior Grayson Lamb “changed the game with his ability to handle pressure and make the right play over and over. He also made a big three that gave us momentum late.”
Seniors Zack Carlton and Colby Brown each had 11 points for the Vikings. They and junior Reese Cleary, who chipped in with 10 points, had five rebounds apiece.
Call said that senior Trenton Sidden had seven assists and “worked hard defending Elkin’s best player.”
North improved to 3-5 while Elkin dropped to 2-4.
West bumps off East
West Wilkes clipped East Wilkes in Millers Creek on Friday, 64-54, for the Blackhawks’ 10th straight victory over the Cardinals.
“It was a great team win,” said Scottie Greene, the West coach. “We have been playing a lot better as of late. Our players who haven’t played together until this year are learning each other and how to play together and are adjusting to playing to the varsity game.”
Dylan Miller led the Blackhawks with 31 points. “Dylan had an exceptional game. It wasn’t only his points, but his defensive effort as well.”
Greene said it was a team win with all players contributing. “Jaxson Tribble played huge minutes in the post for us. Our defensive effort is still what sticks out to us. Our defense is starting to come along and played really well the past three games.”
Nathan Hall, Logan Wayne, Dawson Osborne and Carson Edmiston had “huge defensive games,” according to Greene. “We really feel like we are on the right track and getting better each and every game.”
West improved to 2-4 while East dipped to 3-4.
Central edges Elkin
Wilkes Central slipped by Elkin in Moravian Falls on Thursday, 47-45.
“I was truly proud of our team,” said Central Coach Matt Hagaman. “I thought our guys showed a lot of toughness and determination against a really athletic Elkin team. We made some big-time plays down the stretch to take the lead and close the deal.”
In a game that featured multiple lead changes, the score was tied at 45-all when Elkin Coach Marcus Wilmoth was whistled for a technical foul during a dead-ball situation with 28.7 seconds left in the game.
Hagaman said he wasn’t sure of what the exchange was between Wilmoth and the official.
Central’s Carlos Reyes-Martin stepped to the line and sank both technical free throws to spot the hosts a 47-45 lead. “No points were bigger than Carlos’ two made free throws,” noted Hagaman.
On the ensuing possession, Spencer Leatherman was fouled with 19.1 ticks left but missed both charity stripe attempts, giving life to Elkin. McKendal Renegar layup was good but the officials ruled the ball touched the top of the backboard first, negating the field goal.
The Eagles took possession and Anthony Graham was fouled by Renegar in the backcourt. But Graham missed both free throws and Elkin had possession on the baseline with 5.2 seconds remaining. Renegar drove past midcourt but was unable to get off a shot before the buzzer sounded.
“We need to do a better job on the free-throw line and help ourselves out a little more there but our team continues to grow and improve and that is the goal—to get better every day,” Hagaman added. The Eagles were 6-of-16 from the line in the fourth quarter.
Leatherman’s 12 points—half of which came on a pair of 3-pointers in the first period—paced the Eagles (3-3). Kamen Smith chipped in with 11 points and Jonah Brooks had 10.
Elkin, which slipped to 2-2, was led by Landon Jackson’s 12 points, which included a trio of 3-pointers. Ty Parson added 11.
Starmount steals one at North
Starmount, last year’s conference champs, picked up their first win of the season Thursday in Hays by edging North Wilkes, 46-43.
Tied 43-43 with 17 seconds to play, North’s Zack Carlton had the ball stolen by Starmount, but North’s Reese Cleary re-stole the ball on the other end.
Carlton then dribbled past half-court but lost the ball. The Rams recovered and Braeden Reinhardt made a layup while being fouled with 1.3 seconds left. He made the free throw and North’s Trenton Sidden missed an off-balance 23-footer at the buzzer.
The Rams improved to 1-3 while North slipped to 2-4.
Cards snap skid to Eagles
East Wilkes engineered a fourth-quarter comeback to knock off Wilkes Central in Ronda on Jan. 26, 65-57, snapping an eight-game losing streak to the Eagles.
With 45 seconds left in the opening period, Spencer Leatherman drained a 3-pointer from the right wing to spot the Eagles a 17-11 lead after a quarter of play.
East’s Brayson Church connected on a trey from the left wing with four ticks left—assisted by Dylan Ward—to slice the Eagle lead to 36-30 at halftime.
Bryson Sidden sank two free throws with 14.3 seconds left in the third to narrow the Central advantage to 46-44 going into the final period.
Central’s Anthony Graham fed Leatherman for a fast-break layin, and the East lead was only 51-50 with five minutes to play. But the Cardinals would then go on a 9-0 run to put it away.
Mikey Darnell made a short follow in the lane then hit a 10-footer for a 55-50 lead. Ledger Blackburn then connected on a 15-footer from the baseline and Church hit the front end of a 1-and-1 for a 58-50 bulge with 1:39 left.
Ward then drove into the heart of the lane and laid one in for a 60-50 lead with 1:05 to play, effectively ending the game.
The Cardinals improved to 3-3 while the Eagles slipped to 2-3.
East seniors Ward, Church, Sidden, Tate Samples and Jacob Spriggs were recognized prior to the game.
Ashe rallies past West
Ashe County rallied in the fourth quarter to post a 53-48 win over West Wilkes in Jefferson on Jan. 26.
West led by five going into the final quarter but was outscored 23-14 in the fourth.
In the final period, West was down by three and had possession with under a minute to play. But Ashe’s Ethan Ashley made a steal with 42 seconds left. Jake Grubb then made a pair of free throws for a 50-45 Huskies lead.
Ashe missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 22 ticks left but Dawson Cox—who had two dunks in the fourth—rebounded the miss and was fouled. He sank both free throws for a 52-45 lead.
West’s Nathan Hall canned a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left to make it a 52-48 game, but Austin Poe connected on 1-of-2 free throws with nine seconds left to finish the scoring.
MVAC leader Ashe bettered to 6-0 while West dropped to 1-4.