DOBSON — “The Big SC” is still gripped with football fever, especially one night after the top-seeded Golden Eagles claimed their seventh come-from-behind win and advanced to the second round of the 2A state playoffs.
However, basketball season is right around the corner, and supporters of Surry Central roundball got their first opportunity to meet the 2016-17 Golden Eagles, and to see the annual Surry Central alumni games. As usual, two teams of former Lady Eagles played in the night’s first contest (the Central JV boys had played a team of alumni during the afternoon session), and then the current Golden Eagles’ boys varsity team challenged another alumni team in coach Myles Wilmoth’s debut as Central’s coach. His predecessor, Ken Eiswald, directed the Eagle alumni.
Between the games, this year’s varsity and JV teams were introduced. It isn’t certain when the boys will play an official game, due to several team members playing key roles on the 11-1 Central football team, but head girls’ coach Mandy Holt said she anticipated her squad will play for the first time on Nov. 30 at Wilkes Central.
These events were part of a day-long event at the school. The SCHS basketball teams held a free clinic in the morning, and a skills challenge for participants followed in the afternoon, along with the JV boys playing the alumni.
A total of 14 former Lady Eagles signed up for the annual girls’ alumni game. Nearly all of them were players who graduated in the last few years, but three women who graduated more than a decade ago also participated. Holt, who has played in the game in the past (she’s a 1999 Central graduate) decided not to this season, but did decide the makeup of the two teams, hoping for a competitive matchup. She got that, as the Black team, wearing Central road uniforms, held on to beat the team wearing the home whites 32-28.
The difference-maker was former All-Conference performer Sarah Bruce, a 2014 graduate who frequently appears in Central alumni contests. Bruce’s Black team took a lead of four or more points on four different occasions in the game. Each of the first three times, White came back to tie or take the lead, the last time at 22-21 late in the third quarter. Black then went on an 11-2 run, in which Bruce scored seven of the 11 points, including the first two baskets of the final period on a 15-foot jumper, followed by a rebound at the other end that she took coast-to-coast for a basket. Later in the quarter, after White had just missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the game, Bruce scored an old-fashioned basket-and-a-foul three-point play to make it 30-24.
Joining Bruce on the winning team were Janel Chilton Kidd (1992), Olivia Fowler (2015), Emma White (2015), Marlee Wilmoth (2015), Makenzie Mooney (2016) and Mallory Wilmoth (2016). Janel Kidd and Camarra Kidd co-coached this team. Members of the White team included Wendy Jenkins Paben (2000), Jade McCormick Kiger (2004), Whitney Joyner (2010), Maddie White (2012), Courtney Hegler (2013), McKenzie Danley (2015) and Kristen Key (2015).
The Central varsity boys haven’t beaten the alumni in several years, but a few key additions to last year’s returnees have the 2016-17 Eagles hoping for a better year than in recent seasons. The current Golden Eagles took it to the alumni early on, building a 20-10 lead at the end of the first quarter and leading by about the same margin for much of the second, but the alumni rallied and the game was tight down the stretch, with the old hands needing a putback basket with 1.5 seconds remaining to defeat the current varsity 64-63.
See upcoming editions of the News for more on the Central basketball teams and their outlook for the season.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.