WINSTON-SALEM — The Mount Airy Lady Bears put up a good fight, but came up short in a 69-52 loss to Winston-Salem Prep in a Class 1A sectional final game Friday night.
Kyala Searcy scored 15 points, hitting three big 3-pointers during a second-quarter run for Prep (22-6), which advances to the regional semifinals against Bishop McGuinness. Mount Airy finished its season 21-6.
“I was very pleased with our effort. A couple of times we didn’t execute offensively or defensively,” coach Howard Mayo of Mount Airy said. “Winston-Salem Prep did a very nice job of controlling the boards and taking advantage of their size.”
In the second half, Mount Airy trimmed the lead to 38-32 on Alex Atkins’ 3-pointer from the top of the key with 6:55 left in the third quarter. Atkins found Jasmine Varney underneath with a nice pass to make it 40-34 at the 4:49 mark.
Then Prep started to take control.
Dominique Claytor scored on an offensive rebound and was fouled. She completed the three-point play to put the Phoenix up by nine.
Kathryn Beasley scored for the Lady Bears, but Prep responded with an 11-2 run to close the period — taking advantage of Mount Airy turnovers and capitalizing on its size inside.
Kayla Robinson’s fast-break bucket made it 54-38 with 1:20 remaining in the third.
“We had 16 turnovers, but they were critical turnovers,” Mayo said. “We had several where we threw the ball away and they got a layup.”
For the Phoenix, it was a season of firsts. Prep had its first 20-win season ever, first championship in the Mary Garber Classic, and first trip to the regionals.
Coach Eugene Love of Winston-Salem Prep said he challenged his post players to step up on Friday.
“We’ve had a great year,” Love said. “I thought we played collectively from start to finish.”
Mount Airy’s zone was effective in slowing down the Phoenix in the first quarter. Mikayla Seivers scored the first two field goals for the Bears, before Prep answered with a 7-0 spurt.
Ayano Shelton hit a tough layup and was fouled at the first quarter buzzer to make it 16-14 Prep.
Davi Barbour hit a 3-pointer to pull the Bears to within 20-17 early in the second quarter.
Then Searcy took over from long range — knocking down three 3-pointers in the quarter as Prep built a nine-point advantage.
Mount Airy got its share of looks from 3-point range, but the usually sharp outside shooters had a rough time getting shots to fall.
“Prep did a pretty good job of getting out on us,” said Mayo, who added his team has nothing to hang its head over after a great season.
Varney and Shelton led the Bears with 10 points apiece. Atkins and Barbour each had nine. Seivers finished with eight for the Bears, who shot lights out in the first two playoff games, scoring 88 points against Albemarle on Wednesday.
Coach Love said taking away the Bears’ 3-point game was a focal point coming in.
“They rely on that,” he said. “You’ve got to close out on those shooters. We had to run them off the 3-point line.”
Winston-Salem Prep 69, Mount Airy 52
Mount Airy 14 15 11 12 — 52
WS Prep 16 20 20 13 - 69
Mount Airy: Jasmine Varney 10, Alex Atkins 9, Kathryn Beasley 4, Mikayla Seivers 8, Davi Barbour 9, Skyler Flippen 2, Ayano Shelton 10
WS Prep: Mychala Wolfe 14, Dominique Claytor 10, Christina Caesar 5, Kayla Robinson 12, Chrisalyn Boston 8, Kyala Searcy 15, Celia Tibbs 5