PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry led by as many as 10 points, but Mount Airy came back to win in overtime 66-65.
A basket by Scott Meredith gave the Cardinals a 31-21 lead late in the first half, but Bears chipped away at the margin before the break, then drew within a basket by the end of the third.
Sophomore forward Khaleel Dailey led the Bears with 26 points and 14 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass.
The Bears led 6-5 at the start, but the Cards went up 11-6 with the crowd erupting as senior Devin Benton hit a three-pointer from the right corner on Senior Night.
Carson Mounce — 10 points and seven rebounds — scored back-to-back baskets as Mount Airy retook the lead at 12-11.
East’s Scott Meredith came in off the bench after the seniors and scored twice to boost the Cards up 18-15 going into the second quarter.
Meredith, who led East with 17 points, scored eight more in the second quarter as the Cards went up 32-25 at the break.
Mount Airy had its best quarter in the third, outscoring East Surry 16-11 to cut the lead to two points going into the final quarter.
The score was tied in the final 10 seconds.
East Coach Jason Anderson said he’s never seen a game come down to two 84-foot plays in the final four seconds.
East Surry ran a play and threw the ball nearly the length of the court to score and go up two.
Then Mount Airy countered with the same type of throw and converted before the buzzer for a tie game.
In overtime, the Bears inched ahead by a lone point.
The Bears committed a lot of turnovers, but also forced several, too, noted Bear Coach Levi Goins.
When they did get the ball in the open court, the Bears didn’t convert often enough in transition, he thought. Also, the team was just 2-6 at the foul line in the first half before improving to 14-20 (70 percent) in the second half and overtime.
East Surry is a tough place to play with an energetic student section, said Goins. He was proud of his team for settling down and showing better composure to hit those important foul shots.
For the Bears, Austin Taylor scored 12, Caleb Horton 10, Isiah Simmons four and Darius Gwyn three points and a team-high four steals.
The win means that Mount Airy and East Surry are tied in the conference standings. However, the Bears swept the two meetings and get the higher seed in the Northwest Conference Tournament.
Mount Airy plays at Bishop McGuinness on Monday, while East Surry travels to South Stokes.