First Posted: 2/26/2009
For a guy prepared to retire at the end of the season, East Surry coach Robert Smith is not in a hurry for this season to end. After an epic performance from guard Courtney Simmons, the Cardinals will play at least once more after handling River Mill, 75-61, Thursday night in a NCHSAA 1-A second-round matchup.
If we can prolong it just a little while longer that will be fine, Smith said. Ill have all the time on my hands after we finish.
Simmons had the easiest 31-point performance possible. She continually cut through the lane or stormed through a feeble Jaguars press attempt for layups. River Mill (30-2) was ranked by some as the second-best 1-A squad in the state.
No one gave us a chance, Simmons said. We had to go for it. We had to play hard as soon as we stepped on the court. If they were going to let me go, I was going to go. I didnt hit any outside shots, really
The ease with which she coasted to the basket was somewhat peculiar to Simmons.
Usually after the first five or six, they say Get on her, but it was open (all game), she said.
The Cardinals (23-3) fell behind 9-0 at the start, but managed to tie the score on a Lekita Shuff putback midway through the first. On East Surrys next possession, Kelsey Long hit a jumper from the left corner to give her team an 11-9 advantage.
They may have been 30-1, but were just as good as they are, Smith said. Once we figured that out we were alright.
The Cardinals trailed by two after one quarter, but took a 41-33 lead by halftime. Simmons scored 12 in the second quarter, while River Mill cooled considerably in the second. Jaguars shooting guard Amber Miller hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter, but none in the second.
East Surry led the entire second half, although River Mill whittled the lead to two in the fourth quarter after Smith was called for a technical with his team up 63-58. A free throw and made basket later, the Cardinals only led 63-61.
I told then Please, cover me on this. Dont let this be the turning point, Smith said. I said I need your help on this and they came to the rescue.
Smith, who is as animated as they come, did not appear to do much. After Paige Honeycutt was called for a foul, Smith objected before turning around and telling his players to sit back down. Then he was hit with the technical foul.
I usually do something more to deserve it, Smith said with a laugh.
Like she had done all game, Simmons provided the meaningful points at the end. She scored eight in the fourth quarter, including a hoop and foul shot to put the game away.
Kelsey Long added 16 points for East Surry, while Shuff and Honeycutt had 10 apiece. The Jaguars were paced by point guard Alison Cousins 19 points and Miller, who finished with 18, all of which 3-pointers.
East Surrys Lea James had eight points after sitting out practice the entire week with medical problems. Only five players scored for East Surry.
Now comes yet another test for the Cardinals: a matchup with Mountain Valley Rival Mount Airy. The teams met three times this year, most recently in the Mountain Valley championship game won by East Surry. Tip off is slated for 6:30 p.m. at East Surry.
Whoever wins tomorrow night is going to the regional, so theres a lot at stake, Smith said. Its cliche-ish, but whoever wants it more tomorrow night wins.
Added Simmons: Its going to be a huge game, probably bigger than (River Mill) because its been a huge rivalry forever. Its our home court. We have got to come out and beat them.
Contact Ed Phillipps at [email protected] or 719-1921.
East Surry 75,
River Mill 61
River Mill 20 13 11 17 61
East Surry 18 23 16 18 75
River Mill Alison Cousin 18, Amber Miller 18, Jada Alvarado 11, Victoria Brillheart 5, Jackie Lyles 5, Juliane Mendez 2, Sarah Wright 1
East Surry Courtney Simmons 31, Kelsey Long 16, Lekita Shuff 10, Paige Honeycutt 10, Lea James 8,