PILOT MOUNTAIN — As the Surry Homeschool basketball season enters the homestretch, both the school’s boys’ and girls’ teams have something to enjoy.
It’s been a difficult season for the Runnin’ Patriot boys, who have struggled with a young team all season, but who showed much improved form in their last three games, playing a strong South Charlotte team tough on the road and then taking two victories from Noble Academy on Friday and Monday nights to up their season victory total to five.
Meanwhile, the Lady Patriots returned to the throne room of the North Carolina Home Educators Athletic Conference after a one-year absence, earning at least a share of the 2016-17 NCHEAC title last Tuesday night with a 56-48 win over Cabarrus Home Educators. On Friday and Monday, the team picked up two decisive victories against overmatched Noble, and now stand at 15-9 overall and 5-1 in league action.
The first 10 days of February will decide if the Lady Patriots have to share the title or not. Surry split with Guilford, but swept the season series from Asheville and Cabarrus. Guilford, at 3-1, will have to play both of those teams early next month, and will have to win both games in order to tie Surry for the conference title. The Lady Patriots are the only team in the conference which has already finished its regular-season conference slate.
Surry knew all it needed was the win in order to secure the title last Tuesday, and the Lady Patriots came out hot against a Stallions team that decided to try mixing up defenses against them — a tactic that Surry coach Todd Hill said is common for Cabarrus.
“They came out in a 2-3 zone, then they tried to put a box on (point guard) Krissa (Hill),” Coach Hill said. “Then it was a triangle-and-two on Jill (Boyd) and Krissa. When they did that, Lydia Clayton scored on three of the next four possessions and they stopped that.”
Surry held a 17-8 lead after a quarter and built it to 32-20 by halftime. In the second half, the Stallions finally found something that worked, and crept back into the contest.
“They started running a 2-3 high trap zone, and we had some problems with that,” said Hill. “We made some bad decisions and they started catching up. Cabarrus got to within four points at one point in the fourth quarter.”
At this point, Hill said that his team finally figured out a way to handle the trap, and Jenny Brown, who led the Lady Patriots with 22 points and 12 rebounds, took care of the rest. She knocked down eight free throws in the stretch run, and Cabarrus’ comeback was halted.
Clayton also had a double-double for Surry, with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Jill Boyd added eight points, Amelia Cox five, Hill four to go with three assists, while Trinity Thompson, Catherine Edwards and Kayleigh Cooper all had two.
“For most of the game, we adjusted extremely well to their defenses,” said Coach Hill. “They changed defenses, and we found the holes and were able to score.”
Todd Hill is also coaching the Surry boys for the remainder of the season, and the Patriots scored a 68-44 win against Noble in Greensboro on Friday night, then downed them again 61-41 on Monday at the Armfield Center. These were big games for Surry’s Jordan Gottfried, who had 24 points and 14 rebounds on Friday night and then scored 30 with seven assists and eight steals on Monday; and Josh Eacho, who had 21 points and 14 rebounds on Friday and then 13 points and eight rebounds on Monday. Luke Childress also had a seven-point, nine-rebound effort in the Monday night win.
Surry’s most impressive performance may have come last Thursday night, though, when the Patriots traveled to South Charlotte and lost 63-52, but only because of a bad performance in the second quarter, when Childress, Surry’s lone big man at 6’7”, got into foul trouble and the team was flustered defensively for a time.
“When he got that third foul, the game kind of got away from us,” said Coach Hill. We’d played well in the first quarter, and then after halftime we cut into their lead but couldn’t catch up.”
Eacho had 30 points and hit six 3-pointers in the win, and also hit double figures in rebounds.
“We’re playing a lot better than we were earlier in the season,” the coach said. “We need to read the floor better, finding the open man and setting screens offensively, but we’re improving. I just don’t want them to be satisfied.”
Surry hosts Calvary on Friday night at the Armfield Center.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.