RALEIGH — Northside–Jacksonville’s versatility in being able to score on a wide range of shots was the key factor in denying North Surry’s boys’ basketball team their first state championship in 28 years, as the Monarchs forced the Greyhounds to settle for the state runner-up trophy with an 86-67 victory in Reynolds Coliseum on Saturday night.
“I told the boys when we won last Saturday that it has been an amazing journey and that this week and this game would fly by, and it did,” said North Surry head coach Kevin King. “The entire experience has been unreal.”
Northside scored first, but Carter Phillips emerged with North Surry’s first basket. The score was 6-4 when Mason Hawks made two from the line, but then the Monarchs went on a 9-0 run throughout the game’s next two minutes. King was forced to signal for a time-out with less than three minutes left in the quarter.
Out of the break, Hawks made a basket, but Northside’s Kenny Dye posted his first two-point shot soon after. Phillips took a pass from Hawks and was fouled on a scoring drive, and turning it into a three-point play for the Hounds. With the deficit at 10 points late in the quarter, Phillips chipped in two points with 22 seconds left to go, and then Hawks pushed the ball to an open Casey Hull for his first score, leaving North down 19-13 at the end of the first quarter.
Hawks opened the second with a quick basket and pulled his team within four. However, Northside got hot again, and even with Phillips getting to the line for two more and Casey Hull scoring inside, Northside’s lead increased back to 10, and it stayed that way into the break, with the Monarchs on top 37-27.
At the half, Phillips was responsible for 15 of the 27 Greyhound points and seven rebounds. Hawks and Hull followed with six points each. Demetrius Jones held the team high for the opposition with 12 and Dye was next with nine.
Hawks and Dye exchanged layups quickly into the second half. Kendal Tucker converted North Surry’s first swish from behind the arc two minutes into the second half. Over the next two minutes for the Greyhounds, Phillips and Hull chipped in two each from inside the paint, but Northside was answering everything and then some, to lead 50-36 at that point. With three minutes left in the third quarter, King called his second full timeout, and out of the huddle, Phillips found nothing but net with a 3-pointer. During the last three minutes to compete in the third, he added another four points, along with a floater from Tucker. There was less that 15 seconds to go when Hawks was fouled while collecting a basket. He made the bonus free throw, and North Surry had the margin back to single digits again, at 57-48 with a quarter left.
North Surry posted 21 points in the third quarter in relation to Northside’s 20. The third quarter of action was the only time the Hounds outscored the Monarchs in a quarter.
Phillips and Hawks kept North Surry within striking distance early in the final quarter, but then Northside ran off seven in a row before Hawks could respond with a 3-pointer and a jump shot for his team. At this point, the Monarchs were ahead by 11 and time was starting to run short. Then Northside once again ran off seven in a row to make things even worse. At the 2:40 mark, Hull broke the run with his last two points of the night, giving him 10 for the game. But Northside had pushed the lead to 20 points with two minutes remaining, and it was clear that this was not North Surry’s day. Ethan Oakley and Nick Badgett would be the last Hounds to score in the 2016-17 season.
The Hounds concluded the year having claimed the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference regular season and conference tournament titles, along with sending seven players on to college rosters for either basketball, football or baseball for this upcoming fall. North Surry finished this season with a 27-5 overall record.
Phillips received the Most Outstanding Player nod for his team, as he held the team high with 26 points, eight rebounds and a steal. Hawks followed with 23 points, three assists and a steal. Hull also contributed with 10 points. Of North Surry’s 67 total points: 40 came from in the paint, six from second-chance opportunities, two points from the fast break, three points from the bench and ten from Northside turnovers.
“We knew they were very good, but I didn’t realize they could score at so many different positions on the floor. They had so many guys that could score,” said King. “There aren’t a lot of places where you can find weaknesses in their offensive game. They rebound well, shoot well and do not turn it over. In the third, we came out and would chip at the score, (but) they would take it away.
“I think more than anything, this group loves each other. I told the ones that have only been with me for one year how much I really appreciated getting to know them this year. For the others, I have known them three or four years each, and they are one big family. They genuinely love each other. This is a group that has made North Surry basketball fans who have been gone for a long time, come back and want to be a part of North Surry High School.”