RALEIGH — Led by Duke University-bound Mikayla Boykin, the Lady Dark Horses of Clinton High School used strong offensive play down the stretch and forced North Surry’s girls’ basketball team to settle for the NCHSAA 2A state runner-up trophy on Saturday night, ending the Lady Hounds’ 22-game winning streak with a 59-49 loss.
Boykin gunned in 31 points for Clinton (30-2), which led throughout the second half, and seemed to come up with an answer every time the Lady Hounds closed their deficit to just a few points.
“We have played really well together this year. I was a little bit disappointed on how our offense operated tonight, but the reason how we got here this year was because we got so much better on that end of the floor,” said North Surry head coach Shane Slate. “We did a good job sharing the ball, taking care of it and we had great chemistry.
“Tonight was indicative of the season we had. There were times that we could have quit. We kept coming back at them, we still kept scratching at them. I was kind of like earlier in the year and losing close games, where we could have hung our heads then but we didn’t. I think that is attribute to the success of these kids playing together.”
The game started out slowly. Neither the Greyhounds nor Dark Horses made any of their first several shots. Then Boykin scored six of her team’s first eight points before North Surry could answer. Finally, Elle Sutphin hit her first jumper in the paint to get the Hounds on the board. Clinton later reeled off six straight to make the lead even larger before Sutphin added a basket and Jessy Nichols a 3-pointer. Boykin answered again for the Dark Horses with treys of her own, but the last minute of action in the first quarter would be all North Surry, as it closed out the quarter with a 5-0 run. Nichols banked in her first make, followed by a free throw from Mikaela Johnson, who got to the line three times in the quarter and made half of the shots. There were 22 seconds on the clock when Maggie Hawks scored her first basket, which left her team down by two to the Horses, but mainly to Boykin. The score was 16-14 Clinton, and of Clinton’s 16, Boykin claimed 12 as a result of four three-point makes.
Courtesy of Tiana Shuff at the top of the key, the Greyhounds were not down long when the second quarter began. Shuff swished one behind the arc to put the Hounds ahead for the first time. Clinton’s Ashlyn Williams made two shots from the line to regain the lead. Boykin scored before Hawks netted four quick points to again put North on top. Boykin and Tanaziah Chesnutt combined to score the next five for the Horses. Sutphin and Shuff did the same for North Surry, scoring five of their own, but then Clinton finished off the quarter with a 7-0 run. Clinton led 38-32 at the half, after a quarter where the score had been tied twice, and the lead changed six times.
North Surry posted the third quarter’s first four points, two from Taylor Duncan and two from Johnson. The third quarter was a low scoring affair on both sides of the court. With two minutes left to play in the third, Clinton had pushed out to its largest lead at 10 points, outscoring North 13-10 in the quarter. Keeping the Lady Hounds in the game was Martha Holt, who hit three jumpers for six points in the last few minutes. The Hounds were down seven with the quarter ticking away, but Boykin hit a buzzer-beater and Clinton led by nine with a quarter to go.
North Surry opened up the fourth quarter with two points from Sutphin and two from Johnson, making it a five-point game once more.
Enter Boykin again.
Three minutes into play, she was fouled on a scoring drive and turned it into a three-point play. Johnson sank two from the line for the Hounds, naturally followed by another Boykin two. Holt sank her fourth shot of the second half to pull the deficit back within six, but North Surry couldn’t get any closer. Maggie Hawks made two free throws to pull her team within 55-49 with under two minutes left, but that was the end of the line. During the last minute and a half, the Dark Horses logged an additional four points from the line to seal the state championship.
“We certainly had an outstanding season and I am proud of the girls making history at North Surry with our first trip to the State Championship,” said Slate. “I couldn’t be more proud of our efforts. It is unfortunate tonight that we didn’t do enough things to be successful, but that doesn’t take away from the year that we had.”
Sutphin claimed the team high for the Hounds with 12 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, and three steals. Johnson posted nine, with an assist and a steal. Hawks and Holt tallied eight each. Hawks logged the high from either squad with four steals. Holt recorded the only Greyhound block. Clinton’s rebounder was Boykin, who claimed nine boards along with her 31 points.