The battle for the NCHSAA 2A West Regional basketball title will be a battle of even marks in both league and overall records, owned by the fifth-seeded North Surry Greyhounds and the No. 4 seed Forest Hills Yellow Jackets.
The game will take place at noon Saturday at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, with the winner advancing to play for the state championship next week.
The Jackets have advanced to the Final Four for the second straight year, with their last win stemming from an 87-84 overtime upset thriller over the previously undefeated Cavaliers of East Rutherford. North Surry’s season last year ended at the 2A Western Sectional Finals against Shelby a 67-51 mark, a shortfall of 16 points. This year the Hounds advanced to the regional round, and as history would have it, coincidentally avenged last year’s defeat with a 16-point win over Shelby this past Tuesday.
The Jackets own the 2017 Rocky River Conference regular season title and will enter Saturday’s game with a four-game win streak. The last Jacket loss was issued by Monroe High School in the championship game of the RRC tournament. Meanwhile, the Greyhounds reign as the 2017 Western Piedmont Athletic Conference and regular season champs, and are coming into Saturday’s matchup with winning streak of 15 games. The last Greyhound loss came from the first matchup with West Stokes this season, which was three days into the new year.
“They (Forest Hills) are very quick, but not too big. We play almost an identical style of play,” said North Surry coach Kevin King. “We both like to shoot jump shots, we both handle the ball really well, and we both press. They are little bit quicker, but we are a little bit older. The biggest difference is we are mostly seniors, while they have several underclassmen that play.
“The key is going to be who is able to guard the other one. I think the team that is best able to control the emotion and not let the moment get bigger than they are will come out on top,”
The Hounds boast an average of 79.3 points per game, a 50 percent field goal shooting percentage and record around 8.6 steals per game.
North Surry’s men’s basketball program has accumulated four of the North Carolina state titles in its history. Three of those came at the 2A level, in 1963, 1966 and 1967, while under the guidance of Head Coach Bill Atkins. The latest championship came in 1989, when the then-3A Hounds went 26-6 while under the leadership of Head Coach Ron King. The year prior, the Hounds posted a 26-4 record (matching this year’s mark) and finished as runners-up.
Twenty-eight years has passed since the Greyhounds cut the state championship net down and brought the hardware home. Kevin King and his hungry Hounds are looking to change all of that, and two more victories will bring that elusive fifth championship home to Greyhound Country.