BURNSVILLE — Make it twenty.
Something had to give when North Surry’s girls’ basketball team hit the road for a third-round matchup against Mountain Heritage High School on Saturday evening. The host Lady Cougars, champions of the Western Highlands Conference, entered having won 10 straight games. Their guests came into the gym riding a 19-game winning streak.
And now the Lady Hounds have won 20 in a row, after holding off a late rally and ending the season for Mountain Heritage by a final score of 47-41.
North Surry (24-5), which hasn’t tasted defeat since five days before Christmas, will remain on the road for its Elite Eight match-up, but won’t have as far to travel. The Lady Hounds’ next assignment on their quest for a championship will be Tuesday night at Mountain Valley champion North Wilkes (26-4). The Lady Vikings have won 17 in a row, and survived a scare in their most recent outing, an 80-71 overtime win over Madison on Saturday. Prior to that game, North Wilkes had defeated South Stokes 78-42 in the opening round and Stuart Cramer 69-44 in the second.
Although the two schools have not played each other this season, they do have six common opponents — Carver, Surry Central, Forbush, North Wilkes, Ashe County and South Stokes. The Lady Hounds are a perfect 11-0 against those six teams, and only Forbush, who they beat three times, even gave them a competitive game. North Wilkes played the Lady Falcons once, and lost to them 67-62 on Dec. 20, the same night that North last lost a game. Outside of that defeat, North Wilkes won six other games against these teams.
As for the matchup with Mountain Heritage, the game quickly established itself as the type of defensive battle that the Lady Hounds like to play. At the end of the first quarter, North Surry held a 5-2 lead. In the second, it was the visitors who established control and started to find the bottom of the net. The Lady Hounds stayed dominant on the defensive end of the floor and held at 21-9 lead at halftime.
Mountain Heritage (23-3) outscored North Surry in the third quarter, but only by two points, and the Lady Hounds found themselves eight minutes away from a trip to the state quarterfinals at that point, leading 31-21.
In the fourth quarter, the Lady Cougars were able to chop the lead back to six points in the first two minutes, and North’s inability to make free throws consistently began to be an issue. The Lady Hounds only went 17-for-36 from the charity stripe for the night, and many of those came in a fourth quarter where Heritage was desperately trying to catch up. However, North’s defense stayed resolute. The Lady Cougars got close, but their guests battled back. With 3:41 remaining, North Surry once again led by a dozen, and even when Heritage made it close again late in the game, it wasn’t close enough.
The Lady Hounds earned the most success from their strong inside presence. Mikaela Johnson had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds, while Elle Sutphin came close, with 10 points and nine rebounds. They also blocked seven Heritage shots between them, four of them by Sutphin. Hannah Moxley added nine points, Jessy Nichols six and Maggie Hawks five. Tiana Shuff had four assists and Sutphin was credited with three.