It took five years, but East Lincoln finally gets to play for another championship in its own tournament.
Sage Surratt scored 27 points and was 13 of 14 from the free throw line as the Mustangs broke a close game open in the second half to knock off Charlotte Mallard Creek 81-62 and advance to the title game of their own East Lincoln Winter Jam.
East Lincoln (8-0) will face Mooresville, an 84-76 winner over York (S.C.), at 8:30 p.m. today for the championship. It’s the first time the Mustangs have played for the championship in their own tournament since 2008, when they defeated Charlotte Ardrey Kell.
Chazz Surratt had 23 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals, and Charlie Hills added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Mustangs, who outscored Mallard Creek 40-24 in the second half.
The Mavericks’ Terrance Durham scored a game-high 39 points and hit six 3-pointers.
Top-seeded East Lincoln defeated Huntersville Hopewell 83-71 in the opening round on Friday. The Mustangs are in the championship of their own tournament for the sixth time, assistant coach Chip Ashley said, and are 1-4 all-time in the finals.
East Lincoln lost to Cherryville in the championship of the inaugural tournament in 1990, lost to Lincolnton in 2000, to Mooresville in 2001 and to Charlotte Vance in 2005 before winning its first tournament title in 2008.
HARRISBURG HICKORY RIDGE 68, EAST LINCOLN 19: The Mustangs were held to single digits in each quarter for the third straight game as they fell into the seventh-place game of their own tournament.
Eighth-seeded East Lincoln (1-7) will face Central Cabarrus, a 67-45 loser to Mooresville, at 10 a.m. today for seventh place.
Lydia Smith led the Mustangs with seven points. They fell to top-seeded Hopewell 64-7 on Friday.
PEOPLES BANK HOLIDAY CLASH
LINCOLNTON 65, NORTH LINCOLN 59: Will Saine scored 22 points and Quinlyn Harris added 18 as the Wolves held off the Knights to finish third in the Peoples Bank Holiday Clash.
Lincolnton (4-3) led 44-25 heading into the fourth quarter, but North Lincoln (5-7) opened the period with a 9-0 run that stretched to 16-5 to get the Wolves’ lead down to single digits.
A 3-pointer by Zach McGinnis with 50 seconds left made it 57-53. Chantz Petrie, who scored a team-high 21 for North Lincoln, was fouled by Jordon Easter on a 3-point shot and converted all three free throws to pull the Knights to 62-59 with 15.1 seconds left. But Lincolnton hit its free throws to preserve the win.
McGinnis scored 10 points, and Collin Labar and Chase Stehling added nine points each for the Knights, who dropped their sixth in a row.
Colby Pridmore had nine points for Lincolnton, which fell to tournament champion Bandys 59-51 on Friday. North Lincoln lost to West Lincoln 75-65.
LINCOLNTON 68, NORTH LINCOLN 33: Kaniya Brown scored 20 points in a game the Wolves never trailed to finish third in the girls portion of the Peoples Bank Holiday Clash.
Mikayla McDowell added 12 points and Saylor Whitesides scored eight for Lincolnton (4-3). Rachel Nuhfer led the Knights (0-12) with 13 points, and Morganne Kay scored eight.
Tournament champion Bandys defeated Lincolnton 91-27 on Friday. North Lincoln fell to West Lincoln 50-24.
GASTON CHRISTIAN SCHOOL BASKETBALL INVITATIONAL
LINCOLN CHARTER 83, GASTON CHRISTIAN 61: Trey Johnsen scored a career-high 28 points and Amir Davis and Zach Hollar added 18 each as the Eagles finished third in the four-team Gaston Christian School Basketball Invitational.
Lincoln Charter led 42-23 at the half and never looked back. The Eagles lost to Gastonia Piedmont Charter 63-62 in an opening-round game on Friday. Christian Hilty had 24 points and Amir Davis added 13 in that game.
LINCOLN CHARTER 72, GASTONIA PIEDMONT CHARTER 14: Eboni Tinsley scored 11 points in a balanced effort as the Eagles won the Gaston Christian School Basketball Invitational.
Ashley Baich scored 10 points, Caitlyn Miller scored nine points, Victoria Cobb scored eight points and Madi Hare scored eight points as the Eagles improved to 10-0.
They defeated Matthews Carmel Christian 55-44 in an opening-round game on Friday. Cobb had 16 points and Madi Neesmith added 12 in that game.