Eli Gilbert scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter as East Surry held off Elkin 68-65 Saturday in the Thanksgiving tournament at Mount Airy.
In the fourth quarter, with the Elks making a late run at the Cardinals, Gilbert stepped to the line for a free throw.
Gilbert had just missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Coach Jason Anderson implored the 6-foot-1 small forward, “Be a senior.”
The senior responded with two makes to give the Cards a five-point edge with 49.7 seconds left.
Gilbert also expended a lot of energy making cuts off the ball to get open near the basket for three close shots. He picked up the scoring load after Elkin adjusted its defense to stop the Cards’ point guard.
At the start of the game, East Surry passed the ball inside to 6-foot-5 Seth Brim, who scored eight points in the first quarter.
The Elks made a switch to zones to stop Brim, and Scott Meredith went off from the outside. Meredith hit two three-pointers and had a third with his foot on the line; he finished the half with 18 points.
His scoring brought the Cards back from an 18-14 first-quarter score to a 37-30 lead at the break.
Elkin’s shooting guard, Frank Miller, was big for the visiting team. He had 11 of his 13 points in the first half.
Elkins’ Sam Lane, who had a big second quarter against Mount Airy Friday, had a quiet 11 points through three quarters, but exploded in the fourth.
Missed free throws (2-7) hurt the Elks in the third quarter as East Surry stretched the lead to 54-43.
But in the fourth quarter, Lane scored 13 points and was very active in the paint.
Fortunately for the Cards, Gilbert’s big quarter countered Lane and kept the Cards in the lead.
Miller had a chance in the final seconds for a game-tying three, but Gilbert closed out fast and got a hand up on the miss.
Meredith finished with a game-high 26 points. Brim had 17 and Gilbert 13. Drew Alley had four points and some assists. Tyler Pardue scored five, Carson Long three and Jacob Bowman two.
“We’ve got plenty of people who can score,” said Anderson. “Where we went dead in that last four minutes was on defense, and that’s not East Surry basketball.”
He said that final four minutes showed the team’s lack of experience.
“We had chances tonight to put the game away,” he said. “We’ve got to learn from this.”
“Elkin is a much-improved club this season,” said the coach. “They’ve got some great athletes.”
Lane finished with 24 for the Elks.
East Surry (3-0) travels to East Wilkes on Monday.
Reach Jeff Linville at email@example.com or at 719-1920.