EAST BEND — The North Surry boys rolled past county rival Surry Central on Wednesday night at Forbush High School by a score of 96-57 and will advance to the finals of the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference Tournament set for Friday night at 7:30.
North Surry carried a four-point lead after the first eight minutes of play, and at the half led by 13. The lead steadily built up from there.
Central, a team firmly on the playoff bubble and seeking a tournament title and the automatic berth that comes with it, came out strong against the heavily favored Greyhounds. Dante’ Hanner was fouled on the drive, and within the first minute of action, posted the first two points for the Golden Eagles. North’s Avery Smith tied it, but Hanner fed Austin Hazelwood to put his team back in front. North Surry then took a 5-4 lead, but it was taken back 30 seconds later when Chandler Johnson went to the line and made two for the Eagles. Midway through the first quarter, Mason Hawks swished the first three-point basket from either side. Hawks’ make was soon followed by Carter Phillips, who added three points when he was fouled on a scoring drive and claimed the extra point. The Golden Eagles clibled back within three of the Hounds when Ethan Danley drained one behind the arc. Smith scored after an Ethan Simmons steal. As the first quarter came to a close, Phillips scored six points, but Johnson, Danley and Hanner all answered for Surry Central. After one, North Surry claimed the lead, but only by four points at 19-15.
Jacob Harrison snagged a basket with Simmons on the assist to open the second for North. Hanner responded for Central. During the next minute of play, Phillips and Harrison, and Johnson for Surry Central all made a shots behind the arc. Central’s Dreven Harrison made his first basket of the night, and the Golden Eagles were back within five. Hanner grabbed his own rebound and put it in. Phillips and Johnson added another three points each for their respective squads as the two teams reached the midpoint of the quarter. Soon, Hanner knocked down one behind the arc and helped Surry Central come back within two of North Surry, 32-30. However, that was the Eagles’ high-water mark.
After Hanner’s three-point basket, the Hounds held the Surry Central scoreless for the next three minutes. Meanwhile, Phillips logged another five points, Simmons three and Hawks two. North Surry was up by 11 points by then time Surry Central scored again. Danley made two from the line, but he was the last Golden Eagle to score before the break. Phillips and Hawks added another two each as the quarter ended. By halftime, Phillips already had 23 points and the Hounds led 45-32.
North posted a 25-point third quarter in relation to Surry Central’s 13. Dreven Harrison claimed a 4-0 run against the Greyhounds within the first two minutes of the quarter, but Hawks got to the line on back-to-back occasions, and went 4-for-4 to bring the margin back to 13. Chase Chandler and Hanner traded scores, but then Hawks claimed five points and Jacob Harrison a basket for the Hounds. With two minutes left in the quarter, North Surry was up by 21 points. Phillips then added another five points while Kendal Tucker sank two free throws. Danley answered with a 3-pointer, but it wasn’t enough. After three quarters of play, the Hounds led 70-45.
“Our effort defensively in the full court was by far the best it has been in a while. We made them play fast and we wanted as many possessions in the game as possible,” said North Surry coach Kevin King. “We’ve got some guys that are skilled offensively so if we can get as many possessions as we can, that is in our favor. Just making the ball go full speed is exactly what we are trying to do defensively.”
No matter the lead, North Surry did not let up even in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Eagles 26-12 and flirting with 100 points for the third time in five games.
The Hounds opened up the final eight minutes of play with an 11-0 run. Tucker opened up with a three-point basket, his first all game, and by midway through the quarter, had 10 for the quarter and 13 for the game. Phillips scored again early in the fourth and would exit with 31 points. Hawks laid up four more points before he sat down with a total of 22. With three and a half minutes left, the clock became continuous when North pushed its lead to 88-48.
In the win, the Greyhounds posted a free throw shooting percentage of 82 percent, registered 18 steals and had a block.
Hanner and Johnson led Surry Central with 15 points each, with Danley close behind with 10 points. Hanner grabbed eight rebounds.
North Surry (21-4), the state’s second-ranked team according to MaxPreps.com, will play for the championship tonight, also at Forbush. The Eagles will now wait and see if they earn an at-large bid to the postseason party.