Runnin’ Pats open with new coach

By John Cate -

PILOT MOUNTAIN — When you’re stepping into a new job as a coach, it’s always a welcome thing when your players prove to be fast learners.

It appears as if the Surry Homeschool boys basketball team possesses that quality.

The Runnin’ Patriots found themselves in the exact same circumstances during back-to-back games in the past week. In their final game of a preseason tournament held last weekend in Greensboro, Surry made some crucial mistakes down the stretch and in overtime, and ended up losing the game.

The Patriots got a chance at redemption on Tuesday night against Hillsville’s Blue Ridge Home Educators squad, though, and showed they were fast learners.

The teams battled back and forth throughout the game, neither team able to get too far ahead of the other, and as time ran under 20 seconds, Surry and Blue Ridge were locked in a 62-all tie. It was time for first-year Patriots coach Chris Anderson, in his fourth (and first official) game leading the team, to see if his team had learned how to handle itself in the endgame.

With 11 seconds remaining, Surry took a shot that would have given it the lead. The shot missed, but one of the Patriots’ forwards got his hands on the ball and tipped it into the backcourt, so they could reset their offense and work for another shot. This time, Auburn Thompson cut in behind the defense, got the ball, and scored with two seconds left on the clock. Blue Ridge failed to score in the scarce time left to it, and both Anderson and his team had a well-earned first victory of the 2015-16 season, 64-62.

“The team definitely learned from the overtime loss,” Anderson said. “They handled themselves totally differently this time.”

The Runnin’ Patriots come into this season sporting a seven-man roster, which includes four holdovers from last year’s team: guard Jordan Gottfried, who led the team with 29 points in the win over Blue Ridge; center Luke Childress, and swingmen Josh Eacho and Logan Anderson. All four of the returnees are members of the team’s starting lineup, and provide most of the team’s offense. Eacho and Anderson each scored 13 points against Blue Ridge, and Anderson grabbed 15 rebounds to lead the team in that category.

Newcomers to the team include Thompson, who plays the forward and center positions and is the lone new member of the starting five; forward Jacob Mabe, and guard Josiah Zullion.

Even though the team will be working with a short bench, Anderson believes the combination of experienced players and the talent available will ultimately lead the Patriots to success this season.

“We look forward to improving every week, and by the end of the season, we should be highly competitive,” he said.

Surry Homeschool plays its home games the Armfield Civic Center in Pilot Mountain. The Mount Airy News will provide regular updates on the school’s teams as the season progresses.

By John Cate

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