The North Surry basketball team struggled to knock down its open shots through the first three quarters of its matchup with an unbeaten 4A powerhouse in Northwest Guilford, but all that changed in the decisive final period.
The Greyhounds, who trailed by as much as 20 points, erased a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter and made a variety of timely plays down the stretch. A Luke Cartwright layup off a bullet pass from Mason Hawks with 11 seconds left proved to be the game-winner as North Surry (5-1) came away with a 71-70 upset victory.
“Those five guys on the court at the end, I’ve been with them for a long time,” North Surry coach Kevin King said. “They know if they play hard and they play together, they’re not out of any game until someone is shoveling dirt on them… I don’t know if anyone in the gym thought we could come back, but they did.”
The Vikings (4-1) held a 58-44 lead entering the final period, but North Surry came out scorching hot and cut the lead to 59-57 with four minutes to play.
The teams exchanged baskets before North Surry got a stop and had a great opportunity to tie the game at 61, but the 6-foot-7 Cartwright missed an open dunk, and Northwest Guilford drained a three on the other end to make it 64-59 with 3:10 left. A layup for the Vikings gave them a seven-point lead and had Coach King thinking the game was over, but the team still believed.
“I knew we were still right there because of our defense,” said Carter Phillips, a North Surry guard who poured in a double-double at 19 points and 11 rebounds. “All we needed was a couple stops and a couple baskets.”
The Greyhounds continued to battle, and eventually crawled back to make it a 66-64 deficit. North Surry had to send the Vikings to the free-throw line and hope they missed some shots from the charity stripe.
The score read 70-66 in favor of the Vikings when Hawks drilled a three-pointer from the top of the floor to cut the Guilford lead to one. With 37 seconds remaining, Reggie Davis missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving North Surry an opportunity to take the lead.
King didn’t have any timeouts, but he still trusted his team to make a play. The Vikings put an immense amount of pressure on the Hounds’ ball-handlers, but Hawks was able to split a double-team before finding Cartwright open under the basket for his the game-winning layup. Cartwright finished with 19 points.
“The pass was definitely tipped,” Cartwright said. “But it found a way to me and it was big for me to make the layup… It’s nice to get the game-winner, but this is just a big win for us all the way.”
One of the biggest keys for North Surry’s comeback was keeping Northwest Guilford’s leading scorers in check throughout the second half. Jalen Spicer and Thomas Hennigan scored 30 points in the first two periods, but they combined for only six points over the final 16 minutes of action.
Hawks led North Surry with 20 points and also had five assists. He was a bit careless at times in the first half and had eight turnovers overall, but his daring pass at the end of the game proved to be just what the team needed.
Kendal Tucker scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter and was the spark that helped unleash a prolific North Surry offense. The Hounds scored at least 18 points in three of the four periods, but their six-point total in the second quarter gave them a deep hole to climb out of.
Still, they were able to prevail and earn their second impressive victory in a four-day stretch. After defeating the previously top-ranked 2A team in North Rowan on Friday, the Greyhounds upset the eighth-ranked team in the ncpreps.com 4A poll on Tuesday.
“I could schedule teams and beat them by 50 points if we really wanted to, but what does that do for us?” King said. “I want to get into the fourth or fifth round of the state playoffs on someone else’s floor and play meaningful basketball at the end of the year, and this will prepare us.”
Lady Vikings 50, Lady Hounds 32
North Surry’s girls squad was outscored by Northwest Guilford by seven points in the final three quarters, but a difficult opening period that saw the Lady Vikings dominate on both sides of the floor proved costly, as the Lady Hounds (4-3) fell 50-32.
Guilford (7-0) opened up a 15-4 lead after the first quarter and closed the period on an 11-0 run over the final four minutes.
“We turned the ball over too much, especially against their 2-2-1 trap,” North Surry coach Shane Slate said. “We also missed some opportunities around the basket and didn’t convert our free throws. You can’t do that against a good team like (Northwest Guilford).”
North Surry shot 6-16 from the free-throw line.
The Lady Hounds actually won the turnover margin, 25-19, but they couldn’t capitalize on their extra opportunities. Slate believes the Vikings’ size around the rim helped prevent easy layups in transition.
“That size just isn’t something we are used to right now,” Slate said.
Mikaela Johnson led North Surry with 11 points and four rebounds. Maggie Hawks followed her with eight points and chipped in four steals.
The Lady Vikings’ size made things difficult for the Hounds, but it was Guilford’s guards who did most of the damage on the offensive end. Sophomore Lindsey Gauldin led the Vikings with 15, and Cayla King was second with 10 points.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16