PILOT MOUNTAIN — The Lady Eagles opened the game with a run and ended the game with another to beat East Surry 53-42 Friday.
Surry Central led for the entire first half, but the Lady Cardinals put together a 9-3 run in the third quarter to take the lead.
The Eagles answered to retake the lead, then hit five of six free throws at the end of the fourth quarter to prevent a late rally.
From the opening tip, the Eagles ran off nine straight points, then stretched the lead to 15-3 with a small lineup.
Rather than use Brittany Lewis on East’s Keri Fulp at the start, the Eagles went small and spread the floor. Courtney Hegler, Cassidy Joyner and Marlee Wilmoth each had layups in that opening spurt before the Cards began packing in the lane with a zone.
Once Lewis came into the game, the senior posted six points.
Joyner is usually the Eagles’ most prolific outside shooter, but with the junior struggling, it was Hegler who hit three long shots in the first half. The third gave the Eagles a 27-19 edge.
East’s Kacie Markle came off the bench to spark the Cards with six first-half points. East finished the second quarter on an 11-4 run to cut the margin to 29-25.
Brooke Lewis hit a three-pointer at the halftime horn. One official initially called it good, but the other two officials said it was after time expired, and the call was overturned.
East’s Sydney Mosley drew three shooting fouls in the third quarter, including a three-point opportunity. She hit all five foul shots for seven points as the Cards took a 34-32 lead.
Brittany Lewis made back-to-back shots to give the lead to Central.
At the end of the third, Joyner drove the right baseline and pulled up for a midrange jumper to give Central a 40-36 lead going into the final period.
Joyner scored on a layup, then finally hit an outside shot when she sank a three from the right wing. She gave a quick fist pump as that pushed the margin to nine.
Gabi Jessup scored inside, and Keri Fulp hit two free throws as the Cards cut the margin to 46-41 with 2:42 left.
However, the swarming Eagle defense would create several deflections over the next couple of minutes as the Cards were unable to get a shot up.
Point guard Tess Dockery, who hadn’t even looked for her own shot, was fouled with 1:50 left and sank both shots for her only points. Joyner hit three of four, and Sarah Bruce made a layup off a scramble to finish the scoring.
Hegler scored all 16 of her points in the first three quarters and finished as the game’s high scorer.
Courtney is very capable of making threes, but she doesn’t normally look for it, said Coach Mandy Holt. She was 3-5 from deep (60 percent) and 3-3 from the foul line. She also contributed eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Joyner had eight of her 14 points in the fourth. She also provided six steals and four assists.
“I was very pleased with the team defense,” said Holt. “We had multiple players step up.”
Sarah Bruce did an outstanding job slowing down Fulp, who scored just two points in each quarter, the coach said. Bruce also had five points and three rebounds.
Holt said she reemphasized team rebounding before this game.
The Eagles made better decisions with the ball in this one, she believed, showing a better understanding of when to attack and when to pull back and set up the offense.
Brittany Lewis scored 10 as Holt was very glad to see her contribution. That was a senior doing what her coach asked her to do. She didn’t take it personally that she came off the bench tonight, realizing it was just about trying different matchups.
Wilmoth scored four and Dockery and Kristin Key two each.
Mosley led the Cards with 12 points. Markle came off the bench for nine points. Fulp had eight, Jessup five and Emma Slater and Laken Bowman four each.