Anchored by strong play down the stretch from its floor leader, Dylan Ward, the East Wilkes boys defeated North Wilkes in Ronda on Friday, 49-40.

“I was proud of how the boys overcame an uncharacteristically poor shooting night by limiting turnovers and rebounding well on both ends of the court to find a way to come away with the win,” said East Coach Wes Rousseau.

North’s Zack Carlton made a reverse layup to cut East’s lead to 38-36 with 1:51 to play, but the hosts would outscore the Vikings 11-4 down the stretch, sparked by Ward’s three-point play on a driving layin with 1:13 left.

Rousseau said that Ward, a senior guard, “played with a great deal of poise and intelligence at the end of the game to close it out in a tight situation.” Ward had eight of his 16 points in the final five minutes of play.

Ledger Blackburn also had 16 points for the Cardinals, and senior forward Brayson Church had his best overall game with 12 rebounds and four steals, according to Rousseau.

Braxton Long chipped in 12 points for East.

The Cardinals improved to 2-3 while the Vikings dropped to 2-3 and a fifth-place tie with East in the Mountain Valley 1A/2A Conference.

Ashe foils Central

Ashe County dominated the middle quarters in a 74-55 win over Wilkes Central in Jefferson on Friday.

The Huskies outscored the Eagles 42-21 in the second and third quarters to improve to 5-0 in the MVAC. Central slipped to 2-2.

“The Ashe game did not go the way we wanted it to—simply put we have got to get better at offensive execution with good shot selection and we have to become a better defensive team,” said Eagle Coach Matt Hagaman. “It’s a process—the goal has got to be to work as hard as we can to get better each day—and we will. There’s a lot left to play for and we are looking forward to it.”

Spencer Leatherman and Anthony Graham each had 12 points for Central. Jonah Brooks added seven and Jamairius Allen had five—all coming from the free-throw line.

Ethan Ashley led Ashe with 20 points, followed by Jake Grubb’s 19, which included four 3-pointers. Dawson Cox had 14 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks for the Huskies.

North boys down West

The North Wilkes boys were lifted by the outside shooting of Zack Carlton in a 40-27 victory over West Wilkes in Hays on Jan. 19.

North (2-2) scored the first 11 points of the game, highlighted by a 3-pointer and steal and layin by senior guard Carlton, and led 13-3 after a quarter of play.

Carlton led the Vikings with 16 points and six rebounds.

West’s Andrew Dyer hit a jumper just beyond the foul line with under a minute to play in the second quarter to cut the North lead to 19-12 at halftime.

“I thought it was a great defensive effort from our team, especially in the first half,” said Logan Call, the North coach. “We played with great energy in the first quarter, but more importantly we played with great habits for the first time all season.”

Carlton canned a trio of 3-pointers in the third quarter, the final coming from way downtown to spot the Vikings a 30-17 lead with 1:43 left in the period. North led 32-18 with a quarter left to play.

“Zack got hot and that really helped us when we were struggling a little bit offensively and West had fought back into the game,” said Call.

West (1-3) would not get any closer than eight points in the fourth quarter. With the win, North snapped a four-game losing streak to the Blackhawks.

Call said Bryan Johnson, who chipped in with eight points and three rebounds, “played with great effort and rebounded the ball well in the first half. He had two great finishes in the second half, attacking the rim strong.”

Caleb Souther, said Call, had seven points and four offensive rebounds and “continues to lead us with his effort.” North’s Brandon Holloway had six rebounds and four assists.

“Overall, I thought we did some great things defensively we can build on, and we continued to learn and grow as a team offensively,” added Call.

It was the lowest-scoring effort from West since the squad mustered 22 points twice in losses to North and Wilkes Central in 2010.

Ashe trips East

MVAC leader Ashe County dispatched East Wilkes, 62-42, on Jan. 19 in Jefferson.

Dawson Cox paced the Huskies with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Fellow senior Austin Poe had 14 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

Ashe improved to 4-0 while East slipped to 1-3.

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