LINCOLNTON — The saying ‘Survive and Advance’ is completely appropriate and applicable as the Greyhounds outlasted and routed the No. 3 Lincolnton squad 94-60 on Saturday night. The Wolverines suffered only their second loss of the season, while North Surry earned a trip to the fourth round of the NCHSAA 2A state playoffs, and one more home game in an unforgettable season.
Whether you were wearing colors of blue, or colors of black and gold, one thing that that a fan of each might squad may have in common was an inability to imagine that either team could post a 34-point victory over the other.
That changed in a hurry. After the first quarter of play on Saturday night, the Hounds already found themselves battling with a 20-point lead.
Carter Phillips hit a shot from behind the arc and Ethan Simmons scored off a no-look pass from Mason Hawks for a four-point lead within the first minute of play. Lincolnton’s Sage Surratt scored his first basket before North Surry went on a 9-0 run before the midpoint of the opening quarter. Lincolnton coach Bob Cowie signaled for the first time-out of the game
During the 9-0 run, Phillips chipped in four, while Kendal Tucker posted five. Surratt netted his second shot on the night and with this one being from behind the arc, he already had five of his team’s seven points, and scored 27 of their 60 for the night. But Tucker wasn’t impressed, and he found nothing but net with a three-point basket, then canned a two-point jumper for a 22-7 North Surry lead. As the last two minutes were winding down, Hawks grabbed a rebound and transferred the rock to Tucker, who was fouled while attempting to score. Tucker added two points from the strike and closed out the first quarter already owning 14 Greyhound points. Casey Hull produced four points for the Hounds to close out the first eight minutes of competition, with a massive 32-12 lead.
The Greyhounds outscored the hosting Wolves every quarter of play on Saturday night. The Lincolnton boys attempted to come back after being down so far from the first quarter. They posted 21 total points in the second quarter and almost matched the Greyhounds’ 23.
Similarly to the first, Hawks claimed the first basket to open up the second quarter. During the first minute and half, Lincolnton’s Robbie Cowie netted two from behind the arc, but North Surry’s Phillips and Jacob Harrison each swished a 3-pointer. Hull was fouled under the hoop and went 2-for-2 from the line. Lincolnton’s Yung Sherrill and Surratt held a share in the game’s next four points. Phillips was the next Greyhound who produced another successful trip at the hoop, collecting two points with a jumper. Surratt’s next 3-pointer helped bring the Wolves back within less than 20 midway through the quarter. Hawks posted the next five Greyhound points with a 3-point basket and a jumper. Lincolnton’s Langdon Givens, who hit things off early in the first for the Wolves, held the second to last home-court shot, but even with his make, the home team was still down 20. During the last minute and a half, both squads collected a shot each, Tyshawn Harris for Lincolnton, but it was Tucker’s 3-pointer who sent the Greyhounds into the break with a 55-33 edge.
Surratt opened up the third quarter of play with a nice 3-point net. Phillips collected three points and Tucker two before Surratt made his next. Ethan Simmons found an open Hull under the hoop, and Hull would then help post the next Greyhound four points. For the home team, Lincolnton’s Sherrill held his second make of the night, while Surratt collected three points all from the line as he went 3-for-4. At the three-minute mark, Phillips was left unguarded in the paint and with a look from Hawks, helped seal a 68-42 lead. Lincolnton’s Robinson and Surratt closed the third as they logged a basket each, but things were far from over for North Surry. With two minutes left, Hawks clinched one from the line, and Phillips another jumper. Phillips had possession of the ball last, and in his last effort to score, swished a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to complete a 14-point quarter. As the Greyhounds entered the last eight minutes of play, their lead was extended to 32 points. North Surry’s second and third quarters were mirrors of one another at 23 points.
The fourth quarter was the lowest-scoring quarter for the Greyhounds, but even if they had not added any in the final eight minutes, they still would won handily. Ten of North Surry’s 16 in the fourth came from the free-throw line. Outside of the time at the line, Hawks, Hull and Chase Chandler logged a two-point basket each. The score displayed a 94-58 mark after Hawks was fouled on a scoring drive, and after he made the free throw. North Surry coach Kevin King signaled for a 30-second time out. The Hounds had posted a 10-0 run at this point.
“I thought we were as focused and as tuned in as we possibly could be tonight. When we share the ball and when we make the right play we can be good. Offensively, we are talented. It is when we get stuck trying to go too much of our own way when we get in trouble,” said King. “Defensively, I don’t know that I ever felt safe, I didn’t want to take my foot off of the gas pedal because I was afraid of what it might look like. We had an excellent job with our focus tonight.”
The Greyhounds (25-4) rendered an impressive night at the line, as they posted an 86 percent free-throw percentage. Seven steals were accounted for, along with registering 25 total rebounds and two blocks.
In the win, Phillips posted the team high with 33 points, Tucker held 21, Hawks 18 and Hull 15.
For the fourth round of the NCHSAA state playoffs, the No. 5 seed Hounds will host the No. 14 Golden Lions of Shelby on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The winner of Game 60 of the tournament will be a Final Four member and will resume play on March 4 in the regional finals.
North Surry’s girls also won their third-round playoff game, 47-41 at Mountain Heritage, but additional details on that win were not available at press time.