A strong second half performance by Wilkes Central spoiled the North Surry Greyhounds’ first home game of the season. The Hounds led by five at the half, but were outscored 32-23 after the break for their first loss of the season, 53-48.
It took nearly 90 seconds to break the ice in the evening’s final contest between North Surry and the visiting Wilkes Central Eagles. Eli Riggs did so with a 3-pointer from the right corner.
The Hounds weren’t awarded many shot opportunities in the first quarter due to intense zone defense by the Eagles. Anchored by 6’5” Levi Church, the Eagles’ zone forced North Surry to settle for jump shots in the early going.
Cameron Smith took it to Church midway through the quarter for the Hounds’ first points in the paint.
In addition to its impressive defense, Wilkes Central stayed in the game by grabbing a number of offensive rebounds that set up seconds chances on offense.
The only Eagle lead of the first half occurred at 6-5, but was short-lived following five straight points by the Hounds’ Nick Badgett. North Surry led 14-9 at the end of the first quarter.
A quick three-pointer and subsequent and-1 layup for North Surry extended its lead to 20-11. The Hounds starting driving more, with Church picking up his second foul late in the first quarter.
It wasn’t until 4:15 that the Eagles scored in the second quarter with two made free throws. Their first field goal came soon after, with Noah Johnson scoring on a fast break.
Back-and-forth opportunities at the charity stripe resulted in a 25-20 North Surry lead at halftime.
Things didn’t look good for the Greyhounds when the Eagles executed an alley-oop to Church as the third quarter began. Wilkes Central took the lead for the first time since 6-5 off a made 3-pointer.
The teams’ traded baskets, with neither able to gain an advantage. A made three by the Eagles was the catalyst for the visitors as they pulled ahead 38-33 to end the third quarter. Wilkes Central outscored North Surry 18-8 in the quarter.
The Eagles maintained a steady five-point advantage as the game slowed down. Both teams found themselves at the free-throw line quite often in the final quarter.
Wilkes Central gained a 48-41 advantage with two minutes remaining. Despite North Surry’s best efforts to cut into the lead, the Eagles were able to match every basket made by the home team.
North Surry was forced to intentionally foul to keep the clock stopped, but the Eagles made their free throws to maintain their lead.
Even when the Greyhounds were on offense, the defense of Wilkes Central stepped up to limit their shot opportunities. Time slowly expired and the Greyhounds suffered their first defeat by a score of 53-48.
North Surry (2-1) looks to get back on track against East Surry on Friday.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith