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Surratts lead Mustangs to first round win

East Lincoln’s Chazz Surratt dribbles up the court against R-S Central on Monday. Surratt reached the 1,000-point mark in the win.

East Lincoln’s Chazz Surratt dribbles up the court against R-S Central on Monday. Surratt reached the 1,000-point mark in the win.

Sports Editor

DENVER –– Chazz Surratt needed just four points to reach the 1,000-point mark in his short East Lincoln basketball career.
He and his teammates gave the Mustangs a whole lot more.
The sibling duo of Chazz and Sage Surratt dominated R-S Central on Monday, scoring 32 points and 27 points, respectively, as the Mustangs routed the Hilltoppers 96-62 in the first round of the NCHSAA state 2A playoffs.
East Lincoln (24-3) advanced to face North Rowan, a 75-63 winner over Salisbury, in today’s second round. The Hilltoppers’ season ended at 13-12.
The 10th-seeded Mustangs raced out to a 13-0 lead, and led 18-3 when Chazz Surratt, only a sophomore, reached the milestone mark on a pull-up jumper near the foul line with 3:24 left in the first quarter.
They never looked back.
“We played very well,” said East Lincoln coach Neil Hodges, whose team has won six in a row. “It wasn’t perfect, but it was good –– offensively, and we played good defense.”
Surratt’s 32 were a career high, besting his previous high by a point, and he finished with nine assists and seven rebounds. In addition to becoming the youngest to 1,000 points in East Lincoln boys basketball history, he also set a new single-season mark in assists Monday, breaking Wes Glover’s mark of 175 during the 2007-08 season. Surratt, officially, has 184 assists this season, Mustangs assistant coach Chip Ashley said.
His younger brother, Sage, added a game-high 14 rebounds, and came two points shy of matching his career high of 29 points, set in a win against Bandys on Dec. 20.
“I’m happy to see Chazz get his 1,000th point. I’ve never seen a sophomore get to 1,000 points, so he is very happy that he did that and did well,” Hodges said. “Now we’ll see what happens Wednesday. We’ve got to rebound well, the same ol’, same ol’, but we’ve got to go out and get it done.”
Rashaun Whitesides scored 31 points and added nine rebounds for R-S Central, with 25 coming after intermission.
The Mustangs outrebounded the Hilltoppers 47-17, and center Charlie Hills had 10 points and six blocks, all in the first quarter.
“They’re a really good basketball team, and they’re going to be a tough out for somebody,” R-S Central coach Greg Wright said.
Aside from Whitesides, the 23rd-seeded Hilltoppers’ only bright spot was the third period. They matched East Lincoln point-for-point –– Whitesides had 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the quarter –– but by then it was too late.
The Mustangs’ length –– their starting backcourt is 6-foot-2 and 6-7 –– and zone defense are what did R-S Central in.
“Their length, that bothered us early, and the zone” Wright said. “We worked on it (in practice) but we just couldn’t assimilate it. They were aggressive, and just beat us up and down the floor. … They were just by far the more aggressive team.”
Up next for East Lincoln is North Rowan, which finished the regular season tied with Lexington atop the Central Carolina 2A Athletic Conference.
The Cavaliers  (17-5) are on a seven-game win streak, and have some familiarity with the Mustangs. The teams met in pool play last summer during the 2013 Powerade State Games, with North Rowan winning 80-61.
The Cavaliers reached the regional semifinals and went 27-4 a season ago.
“They’re very good,” Hodges said. “We’re pretty familiar with them, they’re pretty familiar with us.”
Regardless of familiarity, team chemistry and player development aren’t what’s at stake, like they were during last summer’s meeting.
It’s now all about winning.
“Like that old Jimmy Valvano theory, survive and advance,” Hodges said. “We got by the first one, let’s see what we do against the second one and take it from there.”

Image courtesy of Jaclyn Anthony / Lincoln Times-News

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