By MICHAEL HUGHES
BELMONT –– East Lincoln’s boys stayed undefeated on the basketball season with a second victory in four days over Belmont South Point, this time on the Red Raiders’ home floor.
Behind 22 points from sophomore floor leader Chazz Surratt, the Mustangs kept South Point winless through early December, winning Tuesday’s heart-stopper 68-63.
Surratt drained 6-for-6 free throws the final minute of play after the Red Raiders were within a point in the late stages.
“We played well enough, especially Chazz,” East Lincoln coach Neil Hodges said. “Chazz was very good down the stretch.
“We had some lapses throughout the game, but (it was) typical December play. When it came time to make foul shots and execute, we did a nice job. Anytime you get a win at their place it’s a good victory. It’s good to get those type games early in the year.”
Both teams are now at full strength after filling their rosters after respective three-game runs late in the football season.
South Point (0-5) started slow on Tuesday but made a pair of runs in the last minute of the first and second quarters to pull to within three at the break, 31-28. The rivals played even for most of the second half before 6-foot-7 Mustangs center Charlie Hills swatted two shots in the paint in the last 30 seconds to keep them in front.
“They were game changers,” said South Point coach Kody Kubbs of Hills’ defense. “But even with the blocks, we got the ball out of bounds. We still had opportunity to do something. We didn’t execute.”
Surratt was 7-of-7 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter, 9-for-9 in the second half, and made his only foul shot of the first half. Freshman Sage Surratt chipped in with 12 points for the Mustangs (4-0) and sophomore Hayden Duggins added 11.
Senior guard Deonte Gaston led South Point with 15 points while senior Tanner Muse, who committed to Clemson for football earlier in the week, was held to 12.
“Over at our place the Muse kid got 20,” said Hodges. “We tried to make it a little tougher on him in there. He’s a good player.”
Mixing defenses through the first three quarters, East Lincoln packed in a stifling 2-3 zone over the final five minutes to suffocate Muse and the Red Raiders guards, who had trouble getting looks and good feeds into the post.
“They’ve got length,” Kubbs said of East Lincoln. “I can’t think of an open look we got all night. They stopped the penetration and recovered very well. They’re very well coached.
“East Lincoln forced us to deal with our weaknesses and we couldn’t do it. They’re going to be a special team this year, and I hope our guys can recognize that we should be a special team as well.”
SOUTH POINT 59
EAST LINCOLN 26
Haley Stewart scored 16 points and Chrissy White added 11 as the Red Raiders beat the Mustangs in girls basketball for the second time in four days.
South Point (2-3) jumped out to a 16-7 lead after one quarter and never looked back.
Alyssa Fuller led East Lincoln (1-3) with nine points. The Mustangs have dropped three straight since winning their season opener.
East Lincoln is off until heading to Lincoln Charter next Wednesday while South Point hosts East Gaston this Friday in a varsity double-header.