Basketball season starts early for teams in the North Carolina Home Educators Athletic Conference, such as the Surry Homeschool Runnin’ Patriots.
Since very few homeschool athletic associations have football or soccer teams, the NCHEAC teams tend to get an early start on the hardwood, which the Surry Lady Patriots did by beginning their season in a two-day tip-off tournament on Nov. 4-5 at the Greensboro Sportsplex. The team’s last game before the Thanksgiving break, at Millennium Charter on Monday night, was their 10th game of the season.
So far, Surry is off to a 6-4 start to its 2016-17 campaign.
The season began on Nov. 4 in Greensboro with a game against the Blue Ridge Panthers, in which the Lady Patriots were ahead just 13-10 at the end of the first quarter and didn’t really blow the game open until late, outscoring Blue Ridge 17-5 in the fourth quarter to win 51-26. Jenny Brown led the team with 13 points, and teammates Krissa Hill, Jill Boyd and Lydia Clayton each tallied eight.
Later that evening, the team played defending homeschool state champ State Line Rush, a Virginia-based team that plays in the North Carolina association, and narrowly suffered its first defeat, 42-40, in a battle between the 2015 and 2016 state champions.
In this contest, State Line held a small lead for most of the first half, but Surry came on after intermission and had a strong third quarter that carried it into a 38-35 edge going into the final period of play, when both teams had trouble getting the ball into the basket. The Rush pulled out a narrow win. Clayton led the team in this game, with a dozen points. Brown and Boyd each tallied nine.
Day two of the Greensboro tournament began with the Lady Patriots taking on the Chatham Thunder and winning easily, 60-38. This one was never really in doubt, as Surry improved to 2-1 by holding a seven-point lead after one quarter of play and extended the advantage from there. Clayton again led the team, scoring 16. Hill, Boyd and Brown all scored nine, but every player made it into the scorebook. Catherine Edwards had six, Trinity Thompson five, Millie Cox four and Kayleigh Cooper two.
The tournament ended that night with a 42-28 loss to Wake Forest. Surry actually led for most of the early going, but a 22-5 third quarter put then behind on the scoreboard and neither team could do much in the final eight minutes, where the toll of four games in two days took its toll on everyone. Boyd led with 12 points and Brown added seven.
Game five, on Nov. 7, was a 64-52 road loss to Salem in which the Lady Patriots dug an early hole and then held their own, but could never reduce the deficit. Brown led the team with 13 points and Edwards added 12.
The next night, the Lady Patriots traveled to Calvary Christian and evened their record at 3-3 with a 62-15 rout against an overmatched opponent. Only seven of the team’s eight players were available, but it was more than enough in a game where Surry already led 31-7 by halftime. Boyd led by 22 points and Edwards scored 11.
A road game at Sheets Memorial the next night was another close loss for Surry, 49-42. The Lady Patriots trailed by almost 20 points at one point in the game, but rallied to make it a close contest in the fourth quarter before coming up short. Boyd, with 14, and Edwards with a dozen were once again the team’s top scorers.
Surry finally came home to the Armfield Center on the 15th and claimed a second win over the Blue Ridge Panthers, this time beating them 64-29 in another contest that was never competitive. Boyd scored nine of her team’s 16 first-quarter points on her way to a game-high 22. Clayton added 13, Edwards 10, Thompson eight, Brown seven and Cooper four.
Three days after that, the team improved to 5-4 with an identical 64-29 rout, but over a different team, the Triad Home Educators. The game, remarkably, was a 23-all deadlock at halftime, after Triad had erased an early deficit. But in the third quarter, Surry came out and outscored its guests 23-0 behind a barrage of scoring from Boyd and Edwards. The blitz continued in the fourth quarter. Edwards led the team with 20 points, followed by Clayton with 15, Boyd with 13 and Brown with nine.
The team returns to action on Dec. 1 against the Asheville Home Educators at the Xcel Sportsplex in Hendersonville.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.