DOBSON — The basketball season at Surry Central High School doesn’t officially begin for another week, but fans of the “Big SC” got their first look at the 2015-16 Golden Eagles and Lady Eagles during Tuesday’s annual Alumni Night event.
The junior varsity and varsity boys played games during the evening, with the JV boys opening the night against a team of current SCHS alumni and faculty members. The third and final game pitted the varsity boys against a team of recent Golden Eagle alumni.
In between, two teams of Lady Eagle alumni squared off in the most competitive game of the night, as the two squads, one in home white and the other in road black uniforms, battled to a 24-22 victory for the Black team that wasn’t decided until 2010 graduate Brittany Tolbert grabbed a rebound with 10 seconds remaining and ran out the clock.
In the first game, the alumni held a 23-point lead at halftime. The Golden Eagles’ JV managed to cut their deficit to 17 points at one point in the second half, but couldn’t keep the momentum going and eventually lost 77-53.
In the second game, between the two alumni teams of Lady Eagles, the White team led by four points early on, but the Black team had pulled even by late in the first quarter, and the teams traded blows in a game that was played at a deliberate pace for most of the evening. Late in the third quarter, Black made its move, and it took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter — its biggest of the night at 22-19 — after current SCHS Coach Mandy Holt (class of ‘99) swished a 19-foot jumper with 14 seconds left in the third.
Both teams had chances to either pull closer or extend the lead in the first few minutes of the final period of play, but neither could make any headway against tough defense. With four and a half minutes to play, Black began trying to run the clock out by running a ‘weave’ delay game. Eventually, the White team figured out what the strategy was and forced a turnover. At the other end, Coach Lauren Redman (West Caldwell ‘06) dialed long distance with 97 seconds remaining and hit from the left wing to tie the game.
There would only be one more score in the contest. With 1:12 left, Tolbert drove the lane and missed an 8-foot jumper, but Kristy Cox (‘95) grabbed the rebound and laid it in to give Black a 24-22 lead.
The teams then traded empty possessions before Hannah Vernon Dudley (‘04) was fouled and went to the line with a chance to clinch the win for the Black team with 15.5 seconds remaining. She missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity, and White came down the other way with a chance to tie or win the game. They got the ball underneath the basket but couldn’t get it in. With about 10 seconds left, Tolbert came away with the loose ball and raced the other way, successfully running out the rest of the clock before White could foul her.
Holt led Black with eight points. Marlee Wilmoth (‘15) scored five, Cox four, Dudley three, Tolbert two, and Emma White (‘15) two.
For White, Redman was the leading scorer with eight points. Sarah Bruce (‘14) scored four, while Maddie White (‘12), Hannah Haynes (‘07), Jade McCormick Kiger (‘04), Wendy Jenkins Paben (‘00) and Carrie Moore (‘95) all scored two.
In the boys game, the current Golden Eagles got off to a hot start and held a 19-9 lead at the end of the first quarter after ending the opening period on a 6-0 run. They pushed the lead to as many as 12 in the second quarter, but then the alumni team began to chip away at the deficit and trailed by just four, at 27-23, going into the break.
After halftime, the game eventually settled into a back-and-forth battle, and the alumni team pulled it out at the buzzer, winning 55-53.
Surry Central will open its season on Nov. 24 at North Wilkes.
Reach John on Twitter at @johncate73.