PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry built an 18-point lead, then had to hold off a furious North Surry rally for a 54-49 win.
It was a physical, but mostly clean game with few whistles blown. The two teams combined for just three fouls and two foul shots in the entire first half, while hitting eight three-pointers.
The Cardinals had some luck early. The Greyhounds jumped out to a 9-6 lead with two of the Cards’ baskets coming off lucky bounces. North’s Marcus Sawyers twice stripped a player driving to the hoop, but a Cardinal was there to pick up the ball and lay it in.
Then East’s Eli Gilbert found himself wide open for a three-pointer. After that one fell, he hit two more long shots, and Drew Alley added another as the Cards finished the quarter on a 14-3 run.
Coach Jason Anderson said he has been looking for Eli to take his open looks.
“He’s had games where he won’t attempt a shot,” the coach said. “He’s got that potential. We’ve been trying to tell him that all season long.”
Eli and Seth Brim really gave the team a lift in the first quarter, Anderson noted. Gilbert scored all nine of his points in that burst, and Brim had six of his seven points in the quarter.
All five guys are capable of double figures on any given night, the coach said. When these players are producing, it releases the stranglehold defenses place on Scott Meredith.
Meredith missed three minutes in the first quarter after hitting his head on the floor. He scored nine points in the second quarter, equalling the Hounds’ team total. East Surry led 34-21 at the break.
East scored three quick buckets to open the third quarter, building an 18-point lead.
“They had a good run in the third quarter,” Anderson said of the Hounds.
North scored 13 points to close to 40-34 at the end of the quarter.
“We went stale offensively, we weren’t getting any movement,” said the coach. “They knocked down some big shots.”
In the fourth quarter, North cut the lead to three on two occasions, but East Surry kept building a little breathing room.
In the final minute, North’s Austin Handy had a three-pointer rattle out that would have cut the margin to one, and East hit some free throws to clinch it.
After a slow start, North’s Grayson Vernon finished with a game-high 20 points. Klay Newsome hit four three-pointers for 12 points. Jacob Snow scored six, Sawyers five, Ryan March four, Handy two.
Meredith led East with 19 points, and Drew Alley scored 13.
Drew brings tons of energy every night, the coach said. He gets a couple of garbage baskets each game by running the floor, grabbing loose balls and just surprising people when they don’t realize he’s there.
Tyler Pardue added six points, and Brim had 12 rebounds to go with his seven points.
Meredith passed out five assists and didn’t have a single turnover, Anderson pointed out.
East Surry travels to Mount Airy on Tuesday, while North Surry hosts Starmount Wednesday in a nonconference matchup.