WINSTON-SALEM — Upon defeating the Forest Hills Yellowjackets by an 83-73 mark, Coach Kevin King’s Greyhounds were the first of three Surry County teams to claim a Western Regional championship and a trip to next week’s state finals.
North Surry’s boys started off a day that featured all four Greyhound and Mount Airy Bear teams contesting the regional finals at the Lawrence Joel Coliseum on the Wake Forest University campus. The Hounds led nearly the entire game and started off what many of the local fans in attendance were calling the “Surry County Invitational” with a win.
“I am just trying to digest what we just went through. The run we have been on the past few weeks has been amazing,” said King. “We have played some really good basketball teams and we have found ways to make plays at the end of the game.” We are a team of runs. We are a team of possessions. We talk about it everyday at practice.”
In the first quarter, Forest Hills scored a dozen points from 3-point range, but the Hounds quickly took the lead and kept it.
The first Greyhound score came from Mason Hawks under the hoop, with Ethan Simmons on the assist. Forest Hill’s Jai Rorie responded with a 3-point shot for the lead. Then Casey Hull struck with a rebound and put-back. Hawks made it 7-5 with a basket and free throw, but it was 7-7 when North Surry really got going.
It would be all Greyhounds for the next minute of action. Carter Phillips posted his first four points of the game, followed with another score by Hawks. The next Yellowjacket basket came in courtesy of Jaleel McLaughlin, but the Jackets were still down. For the second time, Hawks was fouled on a scoring drive and claimed the extra point, putting his team up six with three minutes left in the first. The teams battled on even terms for the rest of the first quarter, with North Surry leading 23-16 at the end. Hawks had a dozen of the Hounds’ 23 points.
Rorie’s second trey of the first half came 20 seconds into the second quarter. Hawks answered with two free throws, but the Yellow Jackets added two more shots from three-point range in the first minute and a half to tie the game. Forest Hills soon took a one-point lead, only to see Phillips picked up four paint points and a one-point lead for the Hounds when King called his first full time-out of the game. With less than three minutes left on the clock before the break, Phillips grabbed a rebound and assisted Jacob Harrison for two. Chase Chandler came up big during the next 30 seconds of play for North Surry, sinking back-to-back 3-pointers from the same position on the court. The Hounds had a nine-point lead with less than two minutes to play before the break. Josh Owens scored from the line for his team, but Phillips went on another 4-0 sole-scoring run for the Hounds. A Yellow Jacket three-point basket ended the half, but North Surry led 43-34 at the half. Hawks had 16 and Phillips 14 at this point.
The only time Forest Hills outscored North Surry was in the third quarter, and even then the Jacket advantage was a slim two points.
Hull and Ethan Simmons scored to open the second half for the Hounds. With his team down 13, Nasione Tyson made a shot for the Jackets, only to see Hull draw a foul on a scoring drive and add three points. During the next minute of action, an 8-0 run from Forest Hills got them back in the game. Avery Smith finally scored off a feed from Simmons and posted his first basket on the night.
“They did a really good job while we were out. They played hard with everything and shared the ball,” said Phillips.
There was a little under two minutes to play when Hull won a rebounding battle under the hoop and posted his seventh point of the quarter with a turnaround jumper. Although the Hounds were still ahead, the lead was back down to single digits. Forest Hills got within five points before Tucker and Hull each made a pair of free throws, leaving the score at 58-51 with a quarter to play.
The Yellow Jackets made their final push at the start of the final quarter, scoring the first four points. A minute and a half in, Phillips scored and then added another basket before Hawks punched in a shot from the line. Tucker and Phillips netted another each before the midpoint of the fourth was near. At the four-minute mark, Phillips scored two at the line, which was then followed by a Simmons jumper. North Surry got the lead back to double-digits after Tucker became the third Hound fouled on a scoring drive. He made the bonus free throw as well. Tyson logged another six points for the opposition during the final minutes, but Hull had four and Hawks and Phillips posted a shot each. The last score belonged to the Jackets, but time expired with the Hounds earning what they had come for, by 10 points.
The Hounds were led by Phillips who went 12-for-18 in total field goals for 27 points, along with eight rebounds and three assists. Hawks finished close behind Phillips with 19 points, three assists and a steal. Hull went 6-for-7 as he posted 17 points.
In the loss, Tyson held the Jackets’ team high with 27 points, Rorie held 15 and McLaughlin 14.
The boys will contend the 29-0 Northside – Jacksonville Monarchs in the NCHSAA Championship game Saturday at either N.C. State University’s Reynolds Coliseum or at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill.