PILOT MOUNTAIN — After opening the season with two losses, it appears as if the East Surry girls have found a formula for victory.
For the second night in a row, the Lady Cardinals overcame a slow start, took the lead, and played out the string for a win. The victim on Wednesday night was Starmount, which succumbed 43-31, primarily on the strength of a 17-4 East Surry run to end the first half.
The Lady Rams (1-3) scored the first five points of the contest, and East Surry didn’t score until Madison Bowman scored off an assist from Morgan Smith with just 89 seconds left in the opening period. Starmount still led by five with less than a minute to go in the first quarter, when Courtney Byrd hit a 15-foot jumper.
However, that was pretty much the end of the highlights for the visitors. The Lady Cardinals (2-2) clamped down defensively and completely dominated the rest of the first half.
The Lady Rams’ lead was 9-6 after one, when Bethany Clayton scored late in the first. East Surry took the lead for the first time when Bowman opened the second half with a jumper and then Smith hit a three for an 11-9 edge. Elizabeth Pozo responded with two free throws to tie the score again, but then Maddi Pennington took command for the Lady Cardinals. The 5’7” guard, one of only two seniors on the team, hit a 10-foot runner in the lane and drew a foul, making the free throw for a 15-11 lead. Then she stole the ball in the frontcourt and took it all the way to the basket. Starmount coach Jeffery Hague called a time-out, but that didn’t cool off Pennington, who drilled a 15-footer out of the break to extend her team’s lead to 19-11.
At this point, it occurred to Starmount to stop her at all costs, but East’s defense held the Lady Rams scoreless the rest of the way, while Clayton added a jumper with 1:15 left for a 21-11 halftime lead.
The run actually reached 21-4 in the second half, as the Lady Cardinals opened the third quarter with another short Pennington jumper, followed by Clayton assisting Beck on an inside hoop. East Surry led by as many as 15 in the third quarter, but settled for a 31-17 advantage going into the final eight minutes of play.
Starmount made one last run at trying to get back into the game in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter. Courtney Byrd made a driving layup and one to start things off, and the Lady Rams actually chopped the deficit down to single digits, as 32-23, when Skylar Martin knocked down a 3-pointer from the left baseline with 6:12 to play. However, that was as close as Starmount would ever get. East put it away down the stretch with six free throws by Pennington and Smith, along with a big rebound basket by freshman Sarah Mann off a missed free throw.
Pennington led the winners with 15 points. Clayton added eight, and Smith six. Beck, Bowman, and Chyanne Fresch each tallied four. Byrd led the Lady Rams with 10, and Chloe Ford added eight, followed by Tecora Manns with seven.
East Surry visits North Surry on Friday night.