Starmount handed first loss of the season

Ethan Barnes had six points for the Rams last week. – Kristian Russell | Yadkin Ripple

BOONVILLE — Last week, the Starmount Rams boy’s basketball team took on No. 2 Bishop McGuinness in a closely-contested game. Starmount struggled to find a basket in the first quarter, but bounced back in the second half to pull within one point. Starmount kept fighting, but the Villains were able to hang on to take a 46-43 win over the Rams.

Bishop was able to capture an early 4-0 lead with under seven minutes left in the first quarter. Starmount cut Bishop’s lead in half as Trey Dezern hit a fader with 6:11 left. After the jump-shot, the Rams struggled to score for the remaining six minutes. Every time the Rams went up for the shot, it would fall to the wayside and the Villains would come up with the rebound. Starmount had several turnovers in the first quarter which resulted in Bishop taking a 12-2 lead after eight minutes of play.

The second quarter was a different story for Starmount, as it looked like a different team. Tavis Bridges put his height to good use and came up with two blocks. On offense, Bridges powered his way through the defense to come up with a lay-up. Dezern and Eric Wiles also put up baskets for the Rams in the second quarter. At halftime, Starmount had cut Bishop’s lead to just six points.

Things started to heat up out of the break for both teams. Starmount put up the first baskets of the third quarter and came close to overtaking the Villains. With just 30 seconds gone off the clock, Ethan Barnes received a pass from Gage Vestal. Barnes stepped back from his defender and knocked down a 3-pointer to bring Starmount within three points of Bishop. The Rams and Bishop traded baskets over the next several minutes of the quarter. Starmount kept driving at the basket as Wiles hit a breakaway hook shot, then Charlie Smythers hit a post shot for a 24-21 game.

Smythers brought the Rams closer to Bishop with a free throw that cut the lead to two points. On the other side of the court, Bishop hit a free throw of its own to take a three-point lead. With 3:40 left in the quarter, Starmount started to pick up its tempo. Ethan Barnes stole the ball from Bishop and made a fast break down the court. Barnes passed the ball to Smythers, who was in the right place at the right time to put up a lay-up and pull Starmount within one point.

The Villains didn’t let the Rams capitalize on the lay-up, as the visitors were able to extend their lead before the quarter was over. Although Bishop had a 31-26 lead at the end of the third, the Rams had overcome a double-digit deficit to pull within five points.

The tempo in the final quarter was like a see-saw, with both teams trading baskets for eight minutes of play. With 4:10 left in the quarter, Starmount came close to overtaking the Villains. Bridges came up with a huge block on defense, which was recovered by the Rams. Starmount took advantage of the ball and made a fast break down the court. Dezern saw his chance and took it from the top of the arc. Dezern evaded his defender and put the ball towards the net where it swished through and pulled Starmount within one point.

With the score 34-33 in Bishop’s favor, the Rams knew they needed to put pressure on the Villains. Starmount was unable to stop Bishop’s attack with a zone defense as the visitors took a 44-39 lead with 1:26 left to play.

The Rams changed things up as they went with a man-to-man full court coverage for the final minute of the game. The coverage worked for the Rams as Barnes stole the ball from his man once again and passed the ball to Bridges. Bridges hit his lay-up to pull Starmount back within three points.

Starmount once again played tough on defense as it came up with the rebound and rushed to get down the court. Dezern put the ball into Bridges’ hands and he showed off his skills with a fade away shot that brought Starmount within one point of the Villains.

With 17.8 seconds left on the board and Bishop leading 44-43, the Rams fouled and the visiting team hit both of its free throws. Starmount got the ball back with 13.9 seconds left on the board. The home team went for the tie but was unable to get the shot off in time. When the buzzer sounded, Starmount fell 46-43 to Bishop McGuinness.

Dezern led the Rams with 14 points. Bridges had 13 points and Barnes had six points. Wiles and Smythers both had five points.

On Wednesday night, the Rams will travel across the county to take on the Forbush Falcons. Game time is earlier than normal, as the Rams do not have a JV girls team. Tip-off is set for around 7 p.m.

Ethan Barnes had six points for the Rams last week.

No. 2 Bishop takes three-point win over Rams

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