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Asheboro’s Jerquarius Stanback led the Comets past Eastern Randolph 80-75, scoring 26 points.    Eric Abernathy/Randolph Hub

Apparently, we need more AHS-ER hoop clashes

ASHEBORO — It had been nearly four years the last time the Asheboro and Eastern Randolph high school boys basketball teams had faced one another prior to last week’s non-league battle at the Martin Smith Gymnasium at AHS.


Hopefully, it won’t be that long again in a series that has packed the gymnasiums at both ERHS and AHS.


In the long-anticipated rivalry renewal on Jan. 3, the inside strength of the Blue Comets was just a shade better than the outside attack of the Wildcats as Asheboro posted a thrilling 80-75 victory.


AHS’ Jerquarius Stanback, who eclipsed the 1,000-point career barrier in the contest, scored 26 points and junior inside player David Rodriguez added 25 more as those efforts helped offset 17 3-point baskets by the Wildcats before both teams returned to conference action late last week.


The win over ER and then a 72-63 victory over Oak Grove in the Mid-Piedmont Conference opener on Friday pushed the AHS winning streak to 10 and gave the Blue Comets a 13-1 overall record heading into action this week.


The Wildcats, who got back into the win column with a 80-50 victory over Wheatmore on Friday night, were 1-1 in Piedmont Athletic Conference action and 5-5 overall after last week’s action.


Prior to last week, the last time ER and AHS met on the basketball floor was Jan. 3, 2019. The Wildcats won that game, snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Blue Comets. It took everything AHS had to earn the win this time.


“Those guys have played against all types of teams having gone to the state championship last year,” AHS coach Brian Nance said. “We got them out of the press early which played to our advantage and we were able to go inside.”


AHS led 14-13 after one quarter, 34-33 at halftime and 60-52 entering the final quarter.


The Wildcats trailed by 11 in the second half before storming back to within three late in the game. The 3-point shot was key as Timothy Brower hit four of the team’s six 3-pointers in the final quarter. Nicah Taylor added a total of four 3-pointers as five different players hit from long distance.


“Those guys shoot it really well,” Nance said. “They have guys who can come in and shoot the ball. I knew they would hit a bunch. I knew our inside game would probably give them problems.”


Stanback and Rodriguez certainly did. Stanback scored 19 of his 26 points in the second half and Rodriguez added 15 second-half points, many of them second-chance putbacks.


ER received stellar play from junior William Stalker while Cam Walker had 15 points and Elijah Woodle 12 for the Blue Comets.


“People underestimate us,” ER second-year coach Johnny Thomas said. “We lost a lot last year. We are at a point where we’re kind of rebuilding. I have three freshmen and one sophomore who didn’t play varsity last year coming off the bench.


“I keep telling the boys all the time that our slogan is stay on the boat. What does a captain do when the boat starts going down? We stay on the boat. We are starting to understand a little more what we need to do, when we need to do it, who needs to do what and how hard we need to play.”


The Wildcats looked impressive in their win over Wheatmore.


“All the kids now are seeing what they are capable of and they are starting to believe in themselves, starting to fight for each other, starting to hustle and dive on the floor and do all the things you need to do to win a basketball team,” Thomas said.


That will cause problems for the rest of the PAC.