HAYS — North Surry punched its ticket to the final four of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A playoffs Tuesday night in Hays.
And the Greyhounds’ phenomenal freshman led the way.
Powered by 23 points from Elle Sutphin, many of which came in a pivotal first-half stretch, the seventh-seeded Hounds defeated fifth-seeded North Wilkes on the road 53-37.
The Hounds, who improved to 25-5, led 11-8 after the first period of play, despite the limited availability of Sutphin. Sutphin picked up her second foul quickly, and was on the bench for the final 5:07 of the opening frame.
But she re-entered the game to start the second, and immediately made her presence felt. A Sutphin drive from the right side made the score 13-8, and a subsequent offensive rebound and put-back in transition a minute later put the visitors up seven.
The lead grew to double digits at the 4:36 mark of the second with another transition basket, this time from Maggie Hawks on the right. And North Surry’s advantage was as much as 17, at 31-14, when Sutphin connected on a layup from the left in the Hounds’ halfcourt set.
All told, Sutphin finished the second quarter with nine of the Hounds’ 20 points in the frame, and set the tone offensively for Coach Shane Slate’s squad.
Sutphin continued to set the pace after intermission. A shot from the left by Sutphin following an assist by Mikaela Johnson started the second-half scoring, and the freshman sensation added four points before the third’s midpoint.
That flurry included perhaps the signature play of the night. With 4:26 on the clock, Sutphin snagged a defensive rebound after a Vikings’ miss and immediately raced down the center of the court.
She spotted Hawks on the left wing and sent a bullet pass to the senior guard while still running hard. Sutphin then found space on the right, and Hawks found her, rewarding the hustling big with a return pass for the easy transition basket.
That made the score 39-21, and forced a time-out from Vikings’ Coach Steven Phillips. But the Greyhounds were able to keep that 18-point lead through the remainder of the third quarter, and cruised through the final eight minutes for the victory.
As special as Sutphin was offensively, the defensive effort was equally impressive. Guards Hawks and Taylor Duncan, among others, blanketed the Vikings’ perimeter players, and kept a normally prolific outside shooting team to only two three-pointers on the night.
Hawks also chipped in 11 points for North Surry. Victoria Young and Emily Phillips, juniors both, paced the Vikings with 14 and 12 points respectively.
The Greyhounds stay on the round for the semifinal round of the 2-A state playoffs, as North Surry travels Saturday, probably to Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, to face the powerful East Burke Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers advanced to the neutral-site weekend contest with the Greyhounds by dispatching Smoky Mountain Tuesday night 78-64. East Burke, who now stand at 27-3, have won eighteen straight games, while North Surry has now won 21 straight.