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Surry beats Galax 68-50: will play for state title on Saturday
Surry one win away from title
By Marty O'Brien
RICHMOND — Trent Porter knew how to deal with the nerves of playing in a state semifinal. He experienced them as a freshman on the Surry County High team that won the 2005 Group A boys basketball championship.
"I got nervous in the first half, but I kept playing harder and harder," said Porter, a 6-foot-2 senior. "I kept trying and trying."
Porter’s effort yielded game highs of 17 points and 12 rebounds in the Cougars’ 68-50 blowout of Galax in a Group A Division 1 semifinal Wednesday at the Siegel Center. The victory moves the Cougars (15-12) into the final at 1 p.m. Saturday against Nelson County, which beat Twin Valley 48-42 in the other semifinal Wednesday.
Porter’s intensity was evident immediately. The Tide (24-5) stuffed his first two shots, but he made his next two — with a layup and a short jumper — as the Cougars rolled to a 10-0 lead in the first four minutes.
Three of those first five baskets followed offensive rebounds as the Cougars established early possession of the boards in building a 65-44 rebounding advantage. John Newman contributed to Surry’s rebounding dominance with 11, in addition to 12 points.
If the Cougars were nervous early, the Tide was petrified. Galax missed its first six shots and made only 17 percent (5-for-30) in the first half.
"It’s our first time in the state tournament in 36 years and there were a lot of jitters," Galax coach Verl Brown said. "You could tell Surry had been here before. They played with a lot of composure."
Jermaine Batten (nine points, three assists) showed plenty for the Cougars, dribbling through or passing over the variety of traps the Tide used. Batten made the play of the game early in the second quarter, driving the length of the court for a layup as he switched the ball behind his back in mid-air.
"You have to stay poised and wait until things open up before committing," Batten said of beating the press.
Batten spearheaded an offense that focused on attacking the basket.
That was a good strategy because depth perception in the 7,500-seat arena made shooting difficult for two teams used to playing in very small gyms. Surry shot just 34.1 percent (14-for-41) but led 37-21 at intermission.
The Tide made a run in the third quarter, cutting Surry’s lead to 46-35 on four baskets by G Zachary (10 points) in four possessions.
Then the Cougars hit the offensive glass again, extending the lead to 15 points on consecutive put-backs by Ryland Wells (eight points, 10 rebounds) and Porter.
The Tide pulled to within 11 again in the fourth quarter. Newman halted that rally with a 3-pointer and a layup courtesy of a Batten pass.
Porter put the game out of reach with a drive to the basket and a short jumper as Surry led 63-43 with 3:20 to play. Surry will play for its second state title in four seasons.
It’s unlikely that the Cougars would be here had Group A not expanded its format to crown Division 1 and 2 champions.
After the dominating performance against Galax, no one is questioning the Cougars’ credentials.
"We’re peaking at the right time," Surry coach Landon Pittman said.
SURRY COUNTY 68, GALAX 50
GALAX (24-5): Frazier 1, Sams 9, Zachary 10, Criner 12, Adams 1, Sexton 7, Alouf 1, Burnett 5, Houk 2, Tellez 2. Totals 17 13-23 50
SURRY COUNTY (15-12): White 6, Newman 12, Batten 9, Minerve 5, Porter 17, Bailey 5, Savadge 1, Wells 8, Wilkins 1, Evans 4. Totals 26 14-34 68.
3-pointers — Galax 3 (Sams, Sexton, Burnett), Surry 2 (Batten, Evans). Total fouls — Galax 24, Surry 17.
Last edited by kennedy : 03-12-2008 at 11:08 PM. Reason: update