First Posted: 2/17/2009
After a poor showing during her teams 49-47 loss to Mount Airy earlier this season, East Surrys Kelsey Long said she wanted to come back into hostile territory and show what she and her team could do.
Tuesday night, thats exactly what she did.
Last game we went in at halftime and were ahead by 8 and I guess we thought we were going to win, Long said. We came out and didnt produce, didnt execute, so we had that in the back of our minds that in the third quarter we needed to come out strong and set the tone from the beginning of the second half.
Long certainly set the tone, going wild in the third quarter, dropping 11 of her game-high 21 points to lead East Surry (21-3) to the 63-45 win over the Granite Bears (18-7), a win which puts the Cardinals into the Northwest 1-A tournament finals against reigning champion Bishop McGuinness.
Behind Longs outburst, East Surry used a 23-3 third quarter run to take the game away from the Bears.
After Mount Airy cut the 24-13 Cardinal halftime lead down to just 26-21 early in the quarter, 3s by Long, Paige Honeycutt and a bucket-and-foul by Autumn Cole allowed the Cardinals to turn that 5-point lead into a 12-point lead in a matter of minutes.
Mount Airy coach Howard Mayo tried to stop the bleeding with timeouts but couldnt stem the tide, with another Long 3-pointer and steal allowing the Cardinals to cruise into the fourth quarter with a 49-26 lead.
East Surry coach Robert Smith said the memory of his teams second-half meltdown in the last meeting between the Bears and Cardinals served as motivation to help spark Tuesday nights run. Smith said the Cardinals looked to not make the same mistakes which allowed an 8-point Cardinal halftime lead turn into an 8-point deficit and a loss.
We talked about that at halftime and we were playing pretty well I thought and it was just a matter of coming out and keeping that same intensity the whole second half and especially the first couple of minutes, Smith said. Theyve played enough ball to know that the first couple of minutes set the tone for the second half, and I think they learned their lesson from the last time. It was a painful lesson to learn, but it certainly helped us tonight.
Mount Airy struggled offensively from the start, falling behind 7-0 early in the first quarter.
After an Ellie Case 3-pointer made the score 11-6 Cardinals with four minutes left in the quarter, neither team could muster a basket.
Mount Airy could not knock down its free throws and East Surry could not capitalize on the Bear missed opportunities, as the score stayed locked at 11-6 for nearly five minutes of game time.
The Granite Bears got a big break just before the end of the first, as East Surry senior Courtney Simmons picked up her third foul on a blown defensive assignment, sending one of the Cardinals most potent offensive weapons to the bench for the rest of the half.
Easts Courtney Reid finally broke the ice early in the second quarter, hitting a jumper in the lane to put the Cardinals up 13-6. The Bears stayed close but continued to struggle at the line, unable to take advantage of 12 East Surry first-half fouls, finishing the half shooting a dismal 8 of 18 at the line and trailing 24-13.
The second half began with Mount Airy looking as if it would be the team to set the tone, with Jordan Hiatt and Maggie McKee hitting back-to-back 3s, followed by a basket by Andria Leonard to cut the Cardinal lead to 26-21, but Long and company would take over shortly afterward.
Mayo said he thought his teams defense was not up to par with the East Surry scoring run and the Bears did not execute well enough to pull out the win.
I felt we came out in the third quarter, hit back-to-back 3s and then we threw the ball away a couple of times and they scored, Mayo said. Our defensive intensity did not match what we needed to do. East Surry came out, executed their offense well and I dont think we did what we needed to do to win. Good teams, and they are a good team, do what they have to do to win the ball game.
Mayo said the Cardinal defensive scheme wasnt something the Bears werent aware of, they just did not perform well on the offensive end.
It was nothing we hadnt prepared for, Mayo said. We knew what was coming, we talked about what we needed to do and we just didnt do it.
Coach Smith said he was pleased with his entire teams performance in the second half, as for Long, he said his go-to junior guard stepped up and showed grit and guts in the face of adversity.
Courtney (Simmons) was in all kinds of foul trouble and I thought Paige and Kelsey kept it up along with everyone else, Smith said. From the last time we played Mount Airy, she (Long) felt like she had one of the worst performances of her career. We talked a lot about how you dont get many opportunities to have second chances and I told her before the game that this was her chance to correct the game before. I thought she certainly took it to heart because she really played well.
Ellie Case led Mount Airy with 15 points in the loss, followed by Maggie McKee with 13 and Jordan Hiatt with 7.
Behind Longs 21 points for East Surry were Autumn Cole with 11 and Paige Honeycutt with 6.
With the win, East Surry has the privilege of facing defending Northwest 1-A and state champion Bishop McGuinness, who will enter Thursdays championship game 21-4 overall and a perfect 15-0 in conference play.
What a reward, Smith laughed. The last time we played Bishop at home we just said we were going to go out and play and not change anything, if thats not good enough, so be it. We are going to approach it like another game. Its kind of hard to do but you cant change everything. We are 22-4 and I feel like we are a pretty decent ball club and if we try to start tampering and messing with a bunch of stuff it will just make it worse. We are just going to come out and play. We wanted to be in the final and we have a nice tradition of being in the final, we dont always win it, but I think they didnt want to be in the stands watching other teams play, so they got their shot.
In the case of Mount Airy, Mayo said his team will more than likely travel to South Stanly next Tuesday for the first round of the state playoffs.
Ive been pleased with our season but I believe our team is capable of playing better basketball than we did tonight, he said. If we play like we are capable of, I like our chances.
EAST SURRY 63,
MOUNT AIRY 45
East Surry 11 13 25 14 63
Mount Airy 6 7 13 19 45
East Surry Kelsey Long 21, Autumn Cole 11, Honeycutt 6, Shuff 4, James 4, Bryant 2, Jen. Bullington 2, Nichols 2, Simmons 2, Merritt 1
Mount Airy Ellie Case 15, Maggie McKee 13, J. Hiatt 7, T. Hiatt 4, Leonard 3, S. Williams 2, D. Williams 1