This could have been a serious “trap game” situation for the fifth-ranked Mount Airy boys basketball team. Only the Granite Bears wouldn’t allow it.
The hosts jumped out to an early 16-3 lead on visiting Starmount Wednesday night, and cruised to a 74-47 victory in the middle game of a stretch of three games on three consecutive nights, sandwiched in between two very important contest in the Northwest 1A Conference.
The game, which was originally scheduled for late November, was rescheduled to Jan. 4 due to the success of the Mount Airy football team. The Bears’ gridders advanced to the state semifinals last month, and Mount Airy put off all basketball competition until after the football season was completed. Making matters worse, this week’s scheduled third game, against Bishop McGuinness, was switched from Friday to tonight because of weather forecasts calling for snow during the weekend.
“This schedule is not ideal, but we need to get games in,” said Mount Airy coach Levi Goins. “We just came off a week last week in the Frank Spencer (tournament) where we played three games in three nights, and I thought we played through that very well. It’s not great that conference games are involved, but we’re going to play through it.”
In the girls game, the Lady Bears did what they have done in most of their games so far this season, going for the jugular in the first quarter and then running away to victory. Mount Airy, ranked fourth in the 1A ranks according to MaxPreps.com, forced a running back with 4:41 left in the third quarter and downed Starmount 65-20.
Mount Airy 74, Starmount 47
The Rams held their only lead when Ethan Barnes opened his team’s scoring with a 3-pointer that briefly put the visitors on top 3-2. Mount Airy responded with a 14-0 run that included one of three dunks from sophomore forward Donavon Green. Peyton Mullins finally stopped the bleeding for Starmount with another 3-pointer, this one from the right wing with 3:33 left in the quarter, but even then, the Rams trailed 16-6. They held their own for the remainder of the opening period, and the Bears were up 23-13 after a quarter.
“I was very pleased with our defensive intensity, and I thought that set the tone for the game,” Goins said.
Unfortunately for the visitors, Mount Airy (7-4) was just getting started. Two and a half minutes into the second quarter, Caleb Arrington dialed long distance from the right wing, his third trey of the night, and then the Bears stepped up the defense, leading to a fast break that ended with Ryan Graham scoring and drawing a foul. His bonus free throw pushed the lead out to 31-13. From there, Mount Airy was essentially content to trade scores the rest of the way and took a 43-23 lead into the break.
The Bears opened the second half with an 8-2 run and kept attacking, eventually getting the lead up to 30 points. Goins cleared the bench with 2:47 left in the third quarter and Mount Airy leading 58-28. They led by as many as 33 in the fourth quarter, which saw the Bears’ reserves play out the string.
Will Sparks led Mount Airy with 15 points. Green had 14, Arrington 11 and Graham 10. Harrison Joyce and Andrew Isom each scored six. For the Rams, Barnes led with 12. Houston Nicks had seven and Griffin Cass six.
Mount Airy 65, Starmount 20
The Lady Bears (10-1) try to set the tone early in all of their games, and Wednesday night was no exception.
Shaunae Sawyers and Madeline Mayfield opened the contest with back-to-back 3-pointers. Arry Ward made it 8-0 on a layup. After a Starmount miss at the other end, Jo Snow scored off a fastbreak. The next score had the Lady Rams’ coach calling timeout down 12-0, but Mount Airy made it to 14-0 before Maggie Freed got Starmount on the board with a putback at the 4:33 mark of the first quarter. The Lady Rams’ Skylar Martin scored two free throws later in the opening period, but Mount Airy tacked on another 14 points in the meantime, and led 28-4 at the end of the first quarter.
There was no getting back into the game for the visitors after that. With most of the Mount Airy starters on the bench early in the second quarter, Starmount cut the lead back to 32-10, but then Snow checked back into the lineup and the Lady Bears reeled off nine quick points. Mount Airy led 46-14 at halftime and subbed liberally in a second half that was played with a continuous clock for the final 12 and a half minutes.
“We just wanted to come out and play our game, but we also wanted to make sure we did all of the little things right,” said Lady Bears coach Angela Mayfield. “Things like making sure we get into the passing lane running the floor, boxing out, things like that. Those things are going to be critical tomorrow (against Bishop), and I think we did a good job of getting ready for that tonight.”
Snow led Mount Airy with 28 points in about two and a half quarters. Sawyers added 13, Mayfield seven, Arry Ward 6, Megan Fleming five, Tatyana Long four and Asherah Smith two. Tecora Manns led Starmount with six. Chloe Ford, Freed and Martin each had four.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.