For the second straight year, East Lincoln’s dream of an unbeaten basketball season ended in the N.C. 2A boys’ championship game.
Farmville Central beat the Mustangs 81-71, winning its first state title in 23 years and denying East Lincoln its first state championship in basketball.
Last season, the Mustangs lost 60-43 to Kinston and Duke recruit Brandon Ingram in the state final and finished 24-1. They vowed to return, with most of their key players returning.
Saturday, they arrived for the final with a 27-0 record, but foul trouble and hot shooting by Farmville Central spoiled their hopes again.
“We are disappointed in the outcome of the game,” East Lincoln coach Neil Hodges said. “It’s just a shame we couldn’t quite put it together, but you come into these kind of things and you want to do the classy thing and congratulate Farmville.”
Trailing by one at halftime, East Lincoln stars Chazz and Sage Surratt scored 14 of their team’s 20 points in the third quarter. East Lincoln (27-1) led by as many as 14 points and appeared on the verge of putting the game away.
But Chazz Surratt fouled out with 4 minutes, 17 seconds left and his team ahead 62-55.
Farmville (28-0) outscored the Mustangs 24-9 after that. Championship game MVP Tyler Maye scored 18 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter.
Farmville made 15 of 43 shots in the first three quarters but hit 10 of 14 shots in a 37-point fourth quarter.
“When the momentum gets on your side, it’s like a tidal wave,” Farmville coach Larry Williford said.
By the end of the game, East Lincoln’s Chazz Surratt and starter Cameron Dollar were on the bench fouled out, and Sage Surratt was playing with four fouls.
For the game, East Lincoln was called for 22 fouls. Farmville Central, which had starting center Ikesta Johnson foul out, was called for 10.
Sage Surratt, a junior, had 32 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Chazz Surratt had 10 points, six rebounds and five assists. Hayden Duggins scored 16.
The Mustangs will likely always wonder how they might have fared if their key players were available late in the game.
“We had two kids foul out today and haven’t had anybody foul out all year long,” Hodges said. “All of sudden, you get to the state championship and have two. That took a little air out of us.”