WINSTON-SALEM — Qualifying for the state championship was the easy part. Taking the regional title was a bit tougher.
Surry Homeschool’s Lady Patriots got both this weekend in the gym at Salem Baptist Christian School in Winston-Salem, but for the second time in eight days, they got a tussle from league rival High Point. Eight days after slipping past the Eagles by three points in their regular-season finale, Surry needed a 3-pointer from Karlie Effler to take the lead for good and hold on for a 45-43 victory in the finals of the N.C. Home Educators Athletic Conference’s West Regional tournament.
Surry (22-6) will join High Point, North Wake and South Wake in the state championship tournament this weekend. High Point had only finished third in the conference during the regular season, but qualified for the state championships by upsetting runner-up Cabarrus in Saturday’s opening round.
The Lady Patriots only needed to win their first game at regionals to qualify, and did that easily, routing Asheville 67-27. Surry already led 26-2 by the end of the first quarter, and nearly half of Asheville’s points came in the fourth quarter, after Coach Todd Hill had cleared his bench.
“It was good to get to the bench early and often, because this tournament is all played in one day, and I wanted to get everyone rested for the final,” Hill said. “We jumped right on them. They started out in a box-and-one on Krissa (Hill), and Jill (Boyd) hit a couple of threes and got them out of that pretty quickly.”
Boyd led the team with 18 points, six assists and seven rebounds. Krissa Hill added 12 points and six assists, while Trinity Thompson had 10 points, six rebounds and five assists. Kayleigh Cooper added six points and 10 rebounds and Karlie Effler scored six points. Katie Effler added four, Millie Cox four and Faith McClary three.
Surry went on to win the regional title that night, but High Point made them earn it. Surry had to come from behind to beat the Lady Eagles last week and needed to do so again this time around.
Krissa Hill had brought Surry back in the last meeting, and High Point decided to try to eliminate the Lady Patriots’ point guard as a threat this time around.
“They came out running a point zone,” said Coach Hill. “They were covering Krissa really high, and it was leaving Karlie to drive the lane and Jill open for three. Karlie got to the free-throw line for six shots in the first quarter.”
The Eagles were once again sizzling from beyond the arc, and the teams were tied at 29 at the half. In the third quarter, with High Point still playing lockdown on Krissa Hill, Boyd scored six of her team’s dozen points and Surry led 41-39 with a quarter to go.
Early in the fourth quarter, Coach Hill tired of having his team play against the Eagles’ zone, and went to a four-corners delay offense, offering High Point the choice of allowing Surry to run out the clock with a lead, or of playing man defense. After about five minutes, they chose the latter. The Eagles held the lead with about two minutes left, but Karlie Effler’s three put Surry back in front and they stayed there to the end. Each team scored just four points in the final period.
Karlie Effler led the team with 14 points, followed by Boyd with 13, then Krissa Hill with six, Kayleigh Cooper with four and Thompson with three. Thompson had seven rebounds and Boyd four assists.
Boyd was named as the MVP of the regional, and was going on the all-tournament team by Krissa Hill and Karlie Effler. All-Conference honors for the regular season were awarded as well, with Boyd named as Player of the Year, Hill as Defensive Player of the Year and Thompson as All-Conference.
Surry opens play in the championships at 5:30 p.m. Friday night at New Garden Friends School in Greensboro. If they win on Friday, they will play for the state title at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.