PILOT MOUNTAIN — With the regular season winding down in the Northwest 1A Conference basketball races, Friday night saw a pair of girls games that threatened to upset the order of things in the league race, and one of which that ultimately did.
The East Surry girls had held an eight-point halftime lead when they traveled to second-place Atkins on Wednesday night, only to see the Lady Camels rally for a 49-48 victory. In a quirk of the schedule, the teams met for the second time just two nights later in Pilot Mountain.
The Lady Cardinals turned the tables in the rematch. Playing in their own gym, East Surry (13-9, 6-4 NW1A) nevertheless trailed 30-23 at intermission, but then stormed back in the second half. Holding the Lady Camels to just three points in the third quarter, East came on strong and carried a 36-33 lead into the fourth quarter, then held on in a back-and-forth final eight minutes to beat Atkins 53-52.
The Lady Cardinals’ victory has enormous implications in the conference race, when coupled with Mount Airy’s tougher-than-it-looked 54-36 win over Bishop McGuinness, which was contested at the same time down at Kernersville. In that game, Bishop, which had been blown out by Mount Airy in the first meeting, trailed just 39-31 after three quarters. The Lady Bears held them to just five points in the final quarter and won going away.
When East Surry defeated Atkins, the Lady Bears also took a huge step toward the Northwest Conference title.
It had been expected, if everything held to form, that Mount Airy (20-1, 10-0) would travel to Atkins for the regular-season finale needing a win to take the NW1A title outright, and that if the Lady Camels won, they would be league co-champions. However, the Lady Bears can now clinch the outright title by winning on Tuesday night at home against East Surry — although as Friday night demonstrates, the Lady Cardinals have no interest in helping any rival’s championship aspirations.
Atkins (16-5, 8-2) will be prohibitive favorites to beat Walkertown on Tuesday night, but now need for East Surry to do to Mount Airy what it did to them to have any hope of a league crown.
In the nightcap, East Surry’s boys easily defeated Atkins 64-46.