Memo to opposing coaches: playing a zone defense against the North Surry boys basketball team is a dangerous strategy.
Bishop McGuinness found that out the hard way Wednesday night, as the Greyhounds dialed long distance 11 times, including five of them in a third quarter that broke the game wide open as North Surry prevailed easily in its season opener, 63-46.
“Play a zone against us, and you’re betting on us not making shots,” said Hounds coach Kevin King. “Someone asked me right after the game how many three’s we’d made, and I found out later it was 11-for-25. We’ve got some guys who can shoot the ball.”
The Villains clearly made the wrong bet.
The first quarter saw the teams feeling each other out for most of the way, but an early tone was set. A pair of 3-pointers staked North Surry to an early 9-4 lead, but the Hounds were having all sorts of trouble defending Bishop’s Devon Woods, a powerfully built 6’3” post player with outstanding post moves. After Carter Phillips drained his second three of the quarter, Woods responded quickly at the other end, at which point the score was actually North Surry 12, Devon Woods 8. The Hounds led 14-10 at the end of the opening period.
King knew that Woods was going to be a serious problem unless North Surry could make a defensive adjustment.
“(Woods) has really good footwork and runs the floor well,” said King. “After the first quarter, we did a much better job of guarding him with another half-man. Whoever was on the wing came down to help. We did a good job on the help-side.”
After scoring eight points in the first quarter and single-handedly keeping the Villains in the game, Woods didn’t get more than four in any other quarter. He finished with a game-high 21 points, but his impact on the contest was limited after the first eight minutes of play.
Meanwhile, North Surry hit a bit of a slump early in the second quarter, and Bishop closed the gap to one point. The Villains had three chances to take the lead before a Luke Mauldin trey, followed by a baseline jumper from Luke Cartwright, gave the Hounds their biggest lead to that point, 22-16 with 2:40 left in the first half.
Fast-break baskets by Hawks and Phillips extended the lead to 10, and the home team took a 29-21 lead into the break when Kendal Tucker dialed long distance from the right baseline right before the buzzer.
North Surry picked up where it left off in the third quarter. Phillips opened the second half with a three from the left wing. Moments later, Hawks hit one and the lead was 12. A determined Woods answered with an old-fashioned basket-and-a-foul for three points, but then Phillips drilled another three, this one from the left baseline. With 1:43 left in the quarter, the Greyhounds had their biggest lead of the night, 43-30. They kept on stretching it from there. An 8-0 run to end the third quarter extended the lead to 51-32.
North Surry led by as many as 25 points in the final stanza before letting up a little in the final minutes of the game.
Tucker and Phillips tied as leading scorer for the Hounds, with 17 points each. Hawks added nine and Cartwright had eight.
Phillips was the high rebounder, with six. Brady Watts had five to go along with his seven points. Hawks and Phillips led the way with six assists each.
North Surry will continue with the non-conference portion of its schedule on Friday night at Mount Airy.
Bishop defeats Lady Hounds
North Surry’s girls might have opened the season with a victory against perennial powerhouse Bishop if not for the last four and a half minutes of the third quarter.
The Lady Hounds had the lead for most of the first half and were up 27-24 with 4:36 left in the third, after Jessy Nichols stole the ball in the frontcourt and threw long to Maggie Hawks for a layup.
Unfortunately, North Surry would score only two more points the rest of the quarter, while the Villains managed 10, including 3-pointers from Tia Cappuccio and Elizabeth Knox, to lead 34-28 going into the final eight minutes.
Lady Hounds coach Shane Slate thought that his team was struggling to score even before the fatal dry spell, though.
“We came out and started the second half with six really good possessions on offense,” he said. “We had six layup opportunities and didn’t convert. We could have been up by 10 or 12 points. They were able to execute in that stretch and we couldn’t, so we went from up three to down six.”
North Surry got to within two points twice in the fourth quarter, the last time at 36-34 on a short jumper by Abby Andrews with 4:50 remaining. However, Knox drilled another three for Bishop shortly after, and the Lady Hounds turned the ball over on three straight possessions. Down 39-34 in the final minute, Tiana Shuff just missed a three that would have given North Surry a chance, but the Villains got the rebound, and Knox scored the clinching layup off a fast break.
Cappuccio led Bishop with 17 points, including four 3-pointers. The Villains rode their long-range shooting to victory, with seven treys during the evening.
“We knew (Cappuccio) would take some threes,” said Slate. “We lost her and (Knox) a couple of times, and that hurt us.”
Andrews led the Lady Hounds with nine points. Paige Sizemore added seven, Mikaela Johnson six and Nichols five.
Reach John on Twitter at @johncate73.