Three days before Christmas, Santa came and brought the gift of free basketball to the Ron King Gym.
If you were a North Surry fan, you’d probably have preferred a visit from the Grinch, however.
The Greyhounds were clinging to a two-point lead at the end of regulation, but West Stokes’ Elan Muniz tied the game on a jumper with six seconds remaining and forced overtime. The Wildcats maintained their momentum throughout the five-minute extra session and won at North Surry for the third straight season, 60-50.
West Stokes (5-4, 2-1 Western Piedmont Athletic Conference) scored the first seven points of the overtime, starting with a driving layup by Noah Spainhour 69 seconds into the extra session. On the next trip down, sophomore Kelin Parsons got open in the corner and knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats a five-point cushion. When Tyler Smith scored with 2:48 to play, West Stokes had its biggest lead of the night to that point at 56-49. The Hounds never recovered, and ended up with only a single free throw by Chase Swartz to show for the entire overtime period.
Contests between the Hounds and the Wildcats are always tightly contested, as evidenced by the fact that the last five regular-season meetings have been won by the visiting team. But North Surry looked like it might end that streak in the first quarter, when Ryan Ward hit two 3-pointers and Eli Riggs and Evan Marion had one each to give the home team a 16-12 lead after eight minutes of play.
The Cats weren’t impressed, though. Isaac Spainhour, who already had eight of his team’s 12 points in the opening period, opened the second quarter with his third trey of the night. He only had one more point in the quarter, but teammate Noah Spainhour scored the next eight points of the game to give West Stokes an 11-0 run and a 24-16 lead with 4:33 left in the first half.
Not to be outdone, the Hounds answered back with a 10-0 run of their own, featuring two baskets by Nick Badgett and another 3-ball from Ward. Amon Conrad scored on a drive to the basket at the buzzer to leave North on top 26-25 at intermission.
The teams did a better job of defending the perimeter in the second half, but neither team could every put the other away. A three by Muniz staked the Wildcats to a 34-29 lead midway through the third, but then Badgett erased it all by himself, making a 17-footer and then a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions for the Hounds. When Ward went coast-to-coast late in the quarter, the Hounds carried a 36-35 lead into the final quarter of regulation.
West regained the lead at 42-41 on a putback by Tyler Smith with 5:32 left in the fourth, but Riggs knocked down a three 70 seconds later and North led by a few points until Spainhour hit a jumper in the lane to tie the game at 44 with 2:22 left. Marion and Badgett made six free throws between them down the stretch, but Spainhour made two and hit a shot of his own. North led 49-47 when West Stokes took the ball with 17 seconds remaining. Muniz recovered a loose ball in traffic and knocked down a jumper to force overtime.
Badgett and Ward led the Hounds with 14 points each. Isaac Spainhour and Noah Spainhour each had 19 to lead the way for the Cats.