DOBSON — Surry Central trailed by 25 points, but roared back to beat Forbush 69-66 for its first conference win of the season on Friday night.
The Golden Eagles trailed the entire game until hitting a pair of free throws with 2:53 left. It was a nip-and-tuck battle from there to the finish, with the Eagles downing the Falcons to deafening cheers from the home fans.
This win didn’t seem at all possible 10 minutes in. The same thought was on the minds of many Eagle fans: This isn’t how it should end.
On the last home night of the season, Central honored its four seniors — Zach Cochran, Jose Montero, Cole Leonard and Brady Tilley. Then came the public announcement that long-time head coach Ken Eiswald is retiring at the end of the season and that this would be his last home game.
What was already a big night became thick with emotion as Eiswald fought back tears before tipoff.
Sometimes emotions power a team to a huge start. Sometimes it is all too much and takes a team out of rhythm. The latter came true, as Forbush scored the first 14 points of the game and led 20-5 at the end of the first quarter.
The second period wasn’t any better as Forbush scored 10 straight points for a massive 30-5 lead.
With such a huge deficit to overcome, however, the Eagles finally relaxed and started to play ball. Over the final 5:32 of the first half, Central put together a 14-4 run to cut the margin to 34-19.
Five straight points to open the third quarter cut the lead to 10. Forbush fans still seemed relaxed, but the home crowd was getting energized.
A free throw from Leonard cut the lead to seven at 42-35. That was the margin going into the fourth, but the Eagles cut it to five with six minutes left, drawing a timeout from Forbush.
The visiting crowd was finally getting nervous as the home fans grew louder and louder.
Brandon Norman gave Surry Central its first lead with two foul shots to make it 55-54 with 2:53 left.
Forbush’s Hunter Chapman regained the lead, then Micah Cranfill stretched it to 58-55. Could the Eagles finally be out of gas?
Leonard drove the lane, looked to pass, then found himself alone under the basket to make it 58-57. Then Jeremy Patterson hit two foul shots, and Leonard hit two more for a 61-58 lead. The home team wouldn’t give up the lead again.
There were several times the Eagles could have folded in the fourth quarter.
Montero, the team’s interior defender and rebounder, fouled out on a moving screen with 5:48 remaining.
Trailing by three with 2:07 left, Patterson went up for a shot and was fouled loudly on the forearm. He double-clutched the shot and tried to make a three-point play, but missed the shot and didn’t get the foul. The crowd let the officials know its displeasure.
On the other end, Patterson’s man was stuck under the right corner of the backboard. Patterson stood straight with his arms up, and the shooter jumped backward into him and drew a questionable foul.
Then, with Surry Central holding a four-point lead and only 10 seconds left, Forbush’s Logan Lineberry ran up the floor and launched himself forward near the three-point line. Lineberry floated several feet through the air to run into a stationary defender. Remarkably, instead of calling a charge, it was a blocking call on a 3-point shot.
Lineberry hit two fouls shots to make it 68-66, then purposely missed the last in the hopes of a rebound with 5.5 left.
Chandler Johnson got the rebound and made one of two at the line for a 69-66 win.
The four seniors didn’t score a point in the first quarter, but had a big impact after that.
Leonard scored 23 points, Tilley hit two 3-pointers, Cochran had just four points, but several good defensive plays, and Montero had several rebounds and a few blocks to go with his four points.
Johnson gave the team a boost off the bench, scoring four of the team’s first six points and finishing with 15.
Patterson had eight, Norman six and Martin Palacios three.
Lineberry led all scorers with 24. Chapman added 15 and Carson Matthews 11.
The Lady Eagles lost to Forbush 43-36. For more coverage of the girls’ game and for a story on Coach Eiswald, see the Sunday edition of The News.
Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692 and on Twitter @SportsDudeJeff.