PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry’s second meeting of the 2016-17 season with conference rival Bishop McGuinness was a tale of two different games. Fortunately for the Cardinals, those two games were imbalanced in their favor.
The Villains hit six 3-pointers in the first quarter and built a 12-point lead, but the rest of the game was all Cardinals, as East Surry caught up by halftime and then dominated the second half to claim an 76-60 victory on Friday night.
The Cardinals (7-11, 4-3 Northwest 1A Conference) outscored Bishop 69-41 after trailing 19-7 seven minutes into the game.
Considering that Bishop (12-7, 5-3) had routed East Surry 60-35 back in December and hit three quick 3-pointers to open Friday’s game with a 9-0 lead, a lot of fans had to be anticipating a blowout. The Cardinals didn’t even score until Jefferson Boaz knocked down a 10-footer three minutes into the contest. The freshman connected again on East Surry’s next possession, but then Bishop’s Johnny Pagano and C.J. Cappuccio dialed long distance on back-to-back trips, and with 72 seconds left in the opening period, the Villains led 19-7. It was 21-11 at the end of the first quarter.
Unfortunately for the visitors, there would be no more villainy committed in the Cardinals’ gym on this night. Bishop had built a big lead by hitting everything it threw up in the first quarter, but East Surry had caught on to the fact that they weren’t much of anything else well, especially defend in the paint. The Cards opened the second quarter with Quincy Smith driving the ball to the basket, drawing a foul and then making his free throws. On the next trip down, Trevon Simmons took it to the rack for two, and the lead was down to 21-15. Bishop’s Ryan Moon got five quick points at the other end to push the lead back to 11, but not for long. Luke Horton scored from the baseline, and then Marion made a nifty cross-court pass to Horton for an easy layup that had the Villains’ coach calling an immediate time-out even though he still led by seven.
It didn’t matter. There was no stopping the Cardinals’ charge. Adam Burke hit a 3-pointer, then scored on a putback, and after another empty trip for Bishop, Horton made two free throws to pull his team within 28-26 with 2:43 left in the first half. East Surry proceeded to tie the game twice, at 28 and then at 31, but the Villains clung to a 33-31 lead at intermission.
Coming out of the break, the Cardinals were dominant on both ends of the floor. With Bishop unable to do anything on the inside, the Villains were forced to keep relying on their outside shooting, but now East Surry was more active and getting hands in the faces of the Bishop shooters. Meanwhile, they kept attacking on the offensive end, outscoring the Villains 20-12 in the quarter by punishing them in the paint. East would make just one 3-pointer in the second half.
Going to the fourth quarter, the Cardinals led just 51-45, and it was still anyone’s game. Neither team scored in the first 1:45 of the final period, but then Burke broke through and gave the Cardinals their biggest lead at 53-45. The Villains scored at the other end, but East Surry wasn’t going to be denied. The Cardinals got three offensive rebounds on their next possession before John Marion drew a foul and sank two free throws. Then Smith got a steal for East, took it to the basket and missed, but got his own rebound and scored for a 10-point lead. After a Bishop miss, Marion took it the other way and it was 59-47, with the Villains again calling for time.
The visitors finally found the stroke from long range again and made three more 3-pointers down the stretch, but they had no answer for Boaz, as the Cardinals began pounding it inside to the 6’5” freshman for easy baskets. East’s lead continued to grow, and the final score was its largest lead of the night.
East Surry steps out of conference play again this afternoon and will seek to avenge another defeat when South Stokes comes to town at 2 p.m.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.