PILOT MOUNTAIN — It appeared as if Starmount read the account of East Surry’s Tuesday night victory over North Stokes, and rightfully concluded that allowing the Cardinals to bomb away from long range was the basketball equivalent of committing seppuku.
However, as Wednesday night’s 64-47 East Surry victory demonstrated, letting Cardinal big men Luke Cartwright and Jefferson Boaz have their way on the inside is no way to defeat them, either.
The duo combined for 22 of East’s 36 first-half points in a dominating show of inside play that staked the home team to a 13-point halftime lead. The Cardinals had a 13-2 run to end the first half after Starmount (1-3) had briefly cut their lead to 23-21 on a driving layup with Brendan Eads with about four minutes left in the second quarter.
The Rams led only once, at 4-3. East Surry built a five-point lead on a Quincy Smith 3-pointer, but settled for a 13-10 advantage after one quarter of play.
The Cardinals had an 10-0 run early in the second period, which began when Boaz went inside for a hoop and some harm, but missed the bonus free throw. However, Cartwright was on the spot to stick it back for two. Adam Burke followed with a steal at halfcourt and took it all the way to the rack to make the score 19-12. However, East wasn’t done, or at least Cartwright wasn’t. The 6’8” senior got inside for a jam, then scored on a hook shot to make it 23-12 two minutes into the quarter.
The Rams answered with a 9-0 run of their own, most of it spurred by strong play from guard Griffin Cass. who had three baskets in the rally. The lead was down to 23-21 when Smith responded for the Cardinals with a short jumper. Then junior point guard Trevon Simmons got in on the fun for the hosts, assisting on four consecutive East Surry baskets. The first two were 10-footers from Cartwright, followed by back-to-back plays where the 6’6” Boaz cut to the basket and got a perfect pass from Simmons for the easy deuce.
The Cardinal blitz ended when Boaz did things on his own, running down a loose ball and taking it the length of the court for a layup with 12 seconds left in the quarter.
The Rams played East Surry on more or less even terms throughout most of the second half, but never got closer than 11 points. This came after an 8-0 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters, beginning when East took its biggest lead of the game at 51-32 after Kolt Bullington scored off a Luke Horton assist. Cass started the rally with an old-fashioned three-point play, and then Eads dialed long distance to begin the final stanza. A 15-footer by Ethan Barnes pulled Starmount to 51-40 with 6:30 remaining. It was still at 11, 54-43, with four minutes left, but then the Cardinals clamped down defensively, outscoring the Rams 12-4 over the rest of the night to match their largest lead at the end of the contest.
Boaz led the Cardinals with 14 points, followed by Cartwright with 13, Smith with 12 and John Marion with 10. Cass led Starmount with 22 points, followed by Eads with eight and Peyton Mullins and Barnes with six each.
East Surry, now 3-1 on the season after back-to-back decisive wins on consecutive nights, will visit rival North Surry on Friday night. The Greyhounds (5-0) beat the Cardinals 69-56 in their season opener on Nov. 30.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.