The Lady Eagles held a nine-point halftime lead, but the Lady Greyhounds chipped away the entire second half to emerge victorious 40-36.
Surry Central’s Courtney Hegler had a big first half to help the Eagles build a 25-16 lead. However, foul shooting doomed the visiting team in the third and fourth quarters.
North Surry was 7-8 at the line in the second half, including 4-4 by Malaya Johnson despite a bruised right elbow.
Central was 0-6 at the stripe, which included missing the front end of two one-and-one opportunities in the last two minutes.
“That really was the difference in the game,” said Central Coach Mandy Holt.
The gym was packed as the schools took part in a Coaches Versus Cancer night. Also, North senior Maddison Hawks organized “Team Grace,” an honor for 8-year-old Grace Phillips, who is battling cancer.
Girls on both teams wore bright Team Grace T-shirts during warmups.
Fans on both sides were audibly into the game, cheering the players and booing the referees.
“We did enjoy the atmosphere,” said Holt.
North Surry led 6-4 when the Eagles’ defense began creating steals and deflections. Central attacked in transition and drew fouls to score the last seven points of the quarter.
Hegler hit a shot to open the second to make the lead 13-6. She had nine points and finished the first half with 15, just one less than the entire Hounds team.
North’s inside tandem of Malaya Johnson and Kristina Rumplasch then combined for seven points to claw back to 16-13.
Tess Dockery hit a three and Hegler scored in the paint for a 21-13 lead on the way to a 25-16 half.
With 32.5 seconds left in the second, Johnson went out of the game holding her right elbow after a fall to the floor. She returned in the second half, but missed some shots before finding her rhythm again.
In the meantime, the Hounds’ halfcourt defense was solid in the third quarter, and fewer midcourt turnovers kept the Eagles from getting fast breaks.
North opened the second half with a 10-2 run to close to 27-26. Each team got two more points before the start of the fourth.
Jordan Badgett got free inside for a basket to give North Surry its first lead since 6-4 at 30-29.
Brittany Lewis hit a baseline jumper, and Cassidy Joyner got a wide-open three from the left wing to build a 34-30 lead.
Maddison Hawks went backdoor for a basket to make it 34-32.
Holt called a timeout with 4:56 left to speak to her team.
“The goal was let them know we had a lead and to try to hold on to it,” she said. And, to remind the girls that the team had timeouts available if they got trapped.
“I believe I have the best ball-handlers in the conference,” she said. “Everything happened the way it was supposed to.”
The Eagles spread the floor and ran more than 40 seconds off the clock before attempting a shot.
North grabbed the rebound, and Badgett hit one of two foul shots for a 34-33 game.
Central again spread the floor and ran time, but in the final 3:09 the Eagles missed all four foul shots.
After Hegler missed two free throws, Central got the ball back and Hegler converted inside for a 36-33 lead.
Brittany Lewis missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:38 left, then North’s Erin March tied the game with a three from the top of the key.
Dockery missed the front end of another one-and-one with 37.6 seconds left.
Rumplasch and Johnson each made two free throws in the final 29 seconds for the win.
“I know I have the hardest-working team there is,” said a proud Holt. “A few bounces just didn’t go our way.”
Johnson came back out with her bruised elbow to score eight of her 13 points in the second half.
Rumplasch scored 14 to lead the Hounds. Maddison Hawks had six, March four and Badgett three.
Hegler led all scorers with 19 and added five steals, four rebounds and several deflections.
Brittany Lewis only had four points, but she was making a lot of things happen as well, said Holt.
Joyner scored six, Sarah Bruce four and Dockery three.
North Surry travels to Winston-Salem Prep today, then the Eagles host Prep on Wednesday.