Tough road trips end as Hounds come home tonight


By John Cate - jcate@mtairynews.com



PFAFFTOWN — North Surry’s long road trip is finally about to come to an end.

The Greyhounds haven’t been seen at the Ron King Gym since Nov. 29, with both teams ending a run of four consecutive road games on Wednesday night against Reagan. North Surry finally gets to play at home again tonight, when the Hounds play host to conference newcomer Walkertown.

It’s been rough sledding of late for both the North Surry boys and girls, although both have been playing against an extremely difficult schedule with a lot of mitigating factors.

The North Surry boys, who came into this season basically starting over after losing nine seniors from last year’s state runners-up, have lost five straight games since starting out 2-0. However, all but one of those contests was competitive, including a 53-43 setback to the Raiders on Wednesday night. The streak began with a 53-46 loss to Wilkes Central in the team’s last home game, and the Hounds have since lost to East Surry (38-32), East Forsyth (57-32), Atkins (50-47) and to Reagan.

Holding onto a lead has been a problem for the young Hounds so far. North had a halftime lead in the Wilkes Central game, led by 10 at the half against Atkins, and lost to East Surry when the Cardinals closed on a 15-1 spree.

Against Walkertown (3-4), North Surry will look to even its league record at 1-1 after dropping its conference opener to Atkins.

The North Surry girls will go into their game with the Wolfpack seeking to snap a two-game skid of their own. However, there’s no shame in falling to Atkins, a 1A state quarterfinalist last year when it was the only team other than North to beat Mount Airy all season. Tuesday’s showdown with the Lady Camels marked the first time this season that the Lady Hounds were at full strength, as 6’2” sophomore forward Elle Sutphin made her 2017-18 debut after missing the first eight games with an injury.

North Surry rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit and was still down eight at the start of the fourth quarter, but tied the game at 46 and forced overtime before Atkins pulled out a 52-50 victory.

Senior Mikaela Johnson (23 points, 16 rebounds) and Sutphin (15 points, four rebounds, three steals) were outstanding, but the Lady Hounds got just 12 points from the rest of the team.

On Wednesday night, North Surry lost 55-38 to Reagan, the state’s fourth-ranked team regardless of classification, according to MaxPreps. The Raiders’ only loss this season came at the hands of No. 1 West Forsyth.

Prior to those contests, the Lady Hounds had handled their difficult slate well, even without having Sutphin.

After holding off rival East Surry for a five-point road win on the first day of December, North Surry traveled to East Forsyth five days later. While the Eagles aren’t a local powerhouse, they did manage to turn the game into an ugly defensive struggle in which Johnson made the difference for the Lady Hounds. The High Point University signee dominated play, with 15 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals. She led the team in everything but the cheering — and probably would have led in that, too, if North hadn’t needed her on the court.

Sophomore Hannah Moxley had just two points in this game, but showed strong form on the boards, grabbing eight rebounds, and then getting six more against Atkins.

If there was any problem against East Forsyth, it was that North kept the Eagles in the game by making just 11 of 29 free throws. The Lady Hounds are making just 59 percent of their free-throw opportunities to date.

Walkertown (5-4, 0-1 Western Piedmont) is a much improved team in its first season of 2A competition after several years in the Northwest 1A Conference. After enduring a 1-21 campaign and losing its last 19 games of last season, the Wolfpack opened with a win this season and have won four more since.

By John Cate

jcate@mtairynews.com

Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.

Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.

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