DENVER — The East Lincoln Mustangs boys varsity basketball team has one more chance to avenge a regular-season split with the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference champion Lake Norman Charter Knights.
The Mustangs piled on 41 second-half points to take a 75-54 victory over the Bessemer City Yellow Jackets in the semifinals of the SPC tournament on Wednesday to set up a rematch with the Knights in the title game on the Mustangs’ home court today.
East Lincoln pulled ahead from a 34-27 halftime lead by outscoring the Yellow Jackets 23-19 in the third quarter and 18-8 in the fourth.
“What usually happens in conference tournaments is that you get out there at 6:30 p.m. and there aren’t many people there,” East Lincoln head coach Neil Hodges said. “You have to create your own emotion. Sometimes high school kids aren’t very good at that. Sometimes high school kids need a little outside impetus to get things going and as the game went on we got it.”
East Lincoln freshman Chazz Surratt led the Mustangs’ scoring attack with a game-high 21 points. Sophomore Christian Tyson-Bryant scored a career-high 12 points, senior Tyler Brock added 11 points and junior Charlie Hills scored 10 points.
East Lincoln held the Yellow Jackets to eight first-quarter points.
“We played good defensively,” Hodges said. “The defense set the tone for the game. We had an all-around game. I thought we played exceptionally.”
The Mustangs held a 19-11 lead midway through the second quarter. Surratt banked in a short jump shot to give East Lincoln a 21-11 advantage and, after a Bessemer City field goal and a free throw, Hayden Duggins banked in another short jumper to give East Lincoln a 23-14 lead.
The Yellow Jackets closed the gap with a pair of 3-pointers but the Mustangs went on a 5-0 run to take a 28-20 lead with three minutes left before halftime.
East Lincoln’s offense peaked in the third quarter with 23 points. The Yellow Jackets pulled to within two points of the Mustangs early in the period, 38-36, but the Mustangs outscored Bessemer City 10-3 in the next two minutes to take a 48-39 lead with 3:10 left in the third.
The Mustangs hope to snap a 17-game win streak by the Knights in today’s game. East Lincoln handed the Knights their only conference loss, 57-54 on Dec. 21.