Special to LTN
LINCOLNTON — When Lincolnton needed Alonzo Mobley most against rival East Lincoln on Friday night, the senior guard was up to the challenge.
He played role of leader for the young Wolves’ squad and he hit one big shot after another to lift Lincolnton to a much-needed conference victory.
Mobley scored 18 points as the Wolves knocked off the Mustangs, 65-59, and improved to 6-7 overall and 2-3 in Southern Piedmont Conference play. East Lincoln fell to 9-4 and 3-2 in the conference.
First, Mobley capped off an 11-0 run by the Wolves midway through the second quarter with six consecutive points in a 55-second span. His second basket — a floater he softly dropped in from just inside the foul line — gave Lincolnton its first lead of the game, 27-26, and his third came on a 15-foot jumper to stretch the lead to 29-26.
“He’s our leader,” Lincolnton coach Bob Cowie said of Mobley. “He’s the one who’s been through the wars with East Lincoln the last several years. So he’s the one who really knows what it’s about. He stepped up huge for us.”
But as big as Mobley was in the first-half run that brought the Wolves back from a nine-point deficit, he came up biggest late in the game.
East Lincoln freshman Chazz Surratt, who scored a game-high 24 points, caught fire to open the final quarter. He sank a pair of 3-pointers, a layup and another basket with 3:23 left in the game to pull the Mustangs even, 55-55, after trailing by as many as eight points.
Cowie called a timeout to draw up a play — for Mobley — and when the Wolves stepped back on the court, they executed the play to perfection. The result: Mobley broke free at the top of the key and buried a 3-pointer with 2:53 left to give the Wolves a 58-55 lead.
“It’s actually a play that we ran, the time prior to that he was open in the post and that particular time we switched him where he pops and it got him open at the perimeter,” Cowie said. “It worked about like we drew it up.”
Brock hit a short jumper to cut the lead to 58-57 but Will Saine hit two free throws and D.J. Cunningham scored on a layup off an assist from Mobley to stretch the lead to 62-57 with 1:17 left. The Mustangs then failed to score in four of their final five possessions and the Wolves made three of five free throws in the final 35.5 seconds.
Mobley had plenty of support Friday. Cunningham scored 15 points, Saine added 14 and Quinlyn Harris had 10.
“It was probably the crowd, the fans,” Mobley said behind his performance. “Usually we play well when there are a lot of people. We play better, easily — I know I like it better when it’s like this.”
Tyler Brock added 14 points and Domonique Smith 13 in support of Surratt. The Mustangs played their second consecutive game without 6-foot-7 junior center Charlie Hills. Hodges said he’s nursing an injury and they don’t want to rush him back too soon.
“It was one of those things, you give a lot of credit to Lincolnton, they came in and shot the ball,” East Lincoln coach Neil Hodges said. “They scored 26 points in the second quarter and normally we play a little bit better defense than that, but you have to give them credit. They made the shots and made the plays they needed to make and we didn’t.”
The rivalry game was another example of how competitive the Southern Piedmont Conference is this season.
“It’s a competitive league,” said Hodges, whose team fell into second place in the conference. “I don’t think there’s a 10-point difference in the whole crowd. A team that’s playing well on a particular night is going to win. If you don’t play up to your normal standards, then you have a good chance of getting cut.”
“There’s a lot of parity and if you’re not ready to play, you’re probably going to lose,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”