WALNUT COVE — In Friday’s late action, East Surry came back from nine down to nip South Stokes 50-49 on a late three-pointer from Scott Meredith.
The Cardinals led 14-11 after the first quarter and then 18-13 in the second. However, the Sauras answered with a 15-5 run to lead 28-23 at the break.
When these two team met on Dec. 21, South Stokes won by seven points.
“They are athletic,” Coach Jason Anderson said of the Sauras. In that first game, the Cards didn’t do a good job defensively and they didn’t start out that way Friday, either.
The defense was much better in the second half, he believed. The team forced some turnovers, but couldn’t capitalize in the third quarter, he noted.
That allowed South Stokes to stretch the lead to 38-29 going into the fourth quarter.
Meredith leads the Cards in scoring with more than 16 points per game, but the Sauras seemed to have made the guard a focal point of their defense.
“Scott was limited in the shots he took,” said Anderson, but he found a way to wriggle free in the fourth.
“We made a heck of a comeback,” the coach said.
Meredith and Seth Brim hit shots to open the fourth and cut the nine-point lead to five.
After South Stokes hit one of two at the line, Drew Alley canned a three-pointer to cut the lead to 39-36.
With less than six minutes to go, the Cards appeared to have momentum on their side.
Then the Sauras hit a three-pointer and one of two foul shots to bump the lead back to seven.
Brim made one of two foul shots for a 43-37 margin. Two more free throws from the Sauras made it 45-37 with a little more than two minutes left.
Coming out of a timeout, Tyler Pardue scored, and the Sauras went 1-2 at the line for a 46-39 score.
Drew Alley scored to cut the lead to five, and Anderson called a timeout inside two minutes.
Pardue committed a foul, but South Stokes missed its shots. Meredith nailed a three that made the score 46-44, and Anderson again called a timeout.
South Stokes made a two-point basket, but Alley answered with a three to make it 48-47 inside a minute left.
Brim fouled center Brandon Smith, who hit one of two for a 49-47 lead.
On the next trip down, “Carson Long set a great ball screen to free up Scott,” said Anderson. The junior swished the shot for a 50-49 lead.
There was still time left for a shot, so the team had to make one last defensive stand, the coach said.
“That’s what won us the ball game tonight, our defense,” he said.
Meredith had eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter. Anderson said the guard shot better than 70 percent from the field.
Alley had eight of his team-high 15 points in the fourth as well.
Brim scored 13 and led the Cards with nine rebounds, while Meredith grabbed six.
Long scored four points, Pardue four and Eli Gilbert two.
Divan Feinster led South Stokes with 16 points.
East Surry improved to 13-5, 6-5 in the Northwest Conference. The Cards have gone 8-2 since Christmas.
The win moves East into a tie for third place with South Stokes. Mount Airy is a half-game back at 6-6, and Bishop McGuinness is 5-5.