PILOT MOUNTAIN — Close, but no cigar for East Surry’s Lady Cardinals on Tuesday night.
Six days after the teams met in King and West Stokes claimed a 17-point win, East Surry hosted the Wildcats. This time, the teams played neck-and-neck until the final minutes, in which West Stokes pulled away for a 55-51 victory.
East Surry started the game with two straight baskets in the paint. A team that relied heavily on perimeter shooting in its previous victory against Surry Central, the Cardinals would go the entire first half without a made 3-pointer.
It wasn’t until Eugenia Marcelli hit a 15-foot jumper at 6:00 that the Wildcats got on the board.
The teams traded baskets for the next minutes, increasing the score from 4-2 to 8-7. East Surry still maintained the lead.
Coming out of a West Stokes timeout, a layup from Bethany Clayton and a 3-pointer from Taylor Cunningham tied the game at 10. The pace of the game increased soon after, when both teams enacted full-court traps on defense.
With the game speeding up, East Surry was able to spread the floor and find Sheridan Kraft under the Cardinal basket for three easy baskets. Kraft had seven points in the first quarter, leading the five Cardinals that scored in the first eight minutes.
Separated by a single point going into the second quarter, the back-and-forth continued. Momentum was on the side of West Stokes, who had a 7-0 streak spanning from the end of the first quarter into the opening minutes of the second.
East Surry evened the score by continuing to attack the basket. Clayton had a pair of layups in the quarter. If the basket didn’t fall, the Cards often drew fouls and got easy points from the charity stripe.
The Cats had a similar strategy. Rachel Delcamp had six points in the quarter and all of them came inside the paint. Hannah Spainhour added four points, all coming from the free throw line.
The game was tied at 30 entering the second half. Two minutes passed without a made basket. A number of shots were missed within eight feet by both teams.
Once Clayton broke the dry spell with a steal and assist to Dasia Lambert, the floodgates were open. East Surry outscored West Stokes 12-8 in the third quarter to take a 42-38 lead.
Four players from each squad scored in the quarter, led by Clayton’s five points.
Down four with eight minutes to play, Marcelli took over for the Wildcats. She exploded for 10 of her 16 total points in the fourth quarter. She got it done shooting at the perimeter, driving to the basket, and knocking down clutch free throws.
Madison Bowman hit the Cardinals’ lone 3-pointer of the night to tie the game at 47. Following Bowman’s triple, the Wildcats outscored East Surry 8-4 to pull away for their seventh straight win.
Clayton led all scorers with 17, followed by Marcelli with 16, and Delcamp and Kraft each with 11.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith