As you pull into North Surry High School, you are embraced with the ‘Est. 1958’ sign. For as long as the school has existed, the Lady Greyhounds have never won a state championship in the sport of basketball, but Shane Slate and his squad are only two wins away from claiming this feat.
On Saturday, the seventh-seeded Lady Hounds (25-5) will take on the No. 4 East Burke Lady Cavaliers (27-3) of Connelly Springs at 2 p.m. at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, home to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The appearance in the regional finals marks only the second time North Surry has ever reached this level of playoff play.
East Burke is arguably having the best season it has had in over a decade. The Lady Cavs this season are bringing in a ‘first league regular season title since 2000-01, their first outright title since 1980-81, and their first league tournament title since 1999-2000,’ according to the team’s hometown’s newspaper, The News Herald of Morganton.
“East Burke is a good basketball team, just like anyone else at this point,” said Lady Hound head coach Slate. “They do some things that are similar as us in terms of what they want to accomplish on offense and looks like they play a lot of man-to-man defense too.”
The reigning 2017 Western Piedmont Athletic Conference regular season and tournament champion Hounds are no strangers to titles either, as they own seven conference championships in a row and nine since the 2006-2007 season.
North Surry defeated the Forbush Falcons nearly two weeks ago in the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference title game by a 48-38 mark, and hasn’t looked back once the playoffs got under way. The Hounds lost to Smoky Mountain last year 46-27 in the third round of the playoffs, but got through that round this season and advanced to the regional final with their most recent 53-37 win over North Wilkes.
“There are things that we have been doing in the last couple of rounds where we have been dialed in pretty good on defense and we have been making the other team work really hard to get good shots,” said Slate. “Offensively, at times we have been really efficient and other times it has taking us a while to get going. We just need to make sure we convert our opportunities that are relatively easy when that time comes.
“It is terrific to be able to have flexibility. We can play with a big lineup or a small lineup, or a combination of the two, and we have been effective using different combinations at different times. Hopefully it will be the same way for us on Saturday.”
Entering Saturday’s game, the Lady Cavs log an average of 60.3 points per game, a field goal percentage of 44 percent and average 11 steals per game. The Hounds record 54.9 points per game, a field goal percentage slightly higher than East Burke’s at 45 and average 13.7 steals per contest.
North Surry enters on a 21-game winning streak, having suffered their last loss five days before this past Christmas. East Burke has won its last 18 in a row.