Jasmine Varney and Alex Atkins were razor sharp from 3-point range and the Mount Airy Lady Bears neutralized Atkins’ height advantage with a solid zone defense to earn a 59-56 Northwest 1A Conference win on Friday night.
Varney and Atkins hit five 3-pointers apiece and scored 18 and 17 points respectively to help keep the Bears undefeated on the season at 8-0 overall and 2-0 in league play. Atkins also had 11 rebounds, three assists and three steals.
The game was fast-paced early, which suited Mount Airy just fine early. Midway through the first half, the Lady Camels built a brief lead thanks to some inside baskets, and turnovers by the Bears. Mount Airy answered with of run of its own and it was 36-35 in favor of the Camels at the half.
The Camels opened the third quarter on an 8-0 run, and led 38-35 after an offensive rebound and score. Mount Airy gave up a lot of height to the visiting team’s front line, but hung in with a zone defense that head coach Howard Mayo used for just the second time this season.
“We switched to a zone and made them shoot it from the outside,” Mayo said. “We had enough people in the lane, and then we had a fighting chance at a rebound.”
The Bears limited the Camels’ second-chance shots and held them to just 26 points in the second half.
Mikayla Seivers made a nice bounce pass in transition to Halee Ratcliff for a layup that put Mount Airy ahead 47-46 with 5:30 left in the fourth quarter. Varney swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key and then added another that gave the Bears a 53-48 edge with 3:06 to go.
Alex Atkins had a nice assist to Ayano Shelton, who was fouled and hit two free throws, before Atkins’ Tierra Wilson rattled in a 3-pointer with 13.6 seconds to cut it to 56-53. Wilson finished with 18 for the Camels. Seivers knocked down a pair at the line with 8.7 seconds to go to set up an anti-climactic finish to a great game between two solid teams.
Wilson banked in a 3-pointer for the Camels to slice the deficit to 58-56 in the final seconds, and coach Louis Lowery called for a timeout. The Camels were out of timeouts and received a technical foul. Seivers hit 1 of 2 at the line, and the Bears inbounded the ball and the clock ran out on the visitors.
Seivers finished with eight assists to go with her three points. Davi Barbour had seven points and five assists.
“We did a great job of sharing the basketball,” Mayo said. “We did a good job of finding who was open. We’ve had six players score in double figures (this year). We have multiple people who can score, and we communicated much better tonight.”
It was just the third loss of the season for Atkins (4-3 overall, 0-3 conference), who also dropped close games to eight-time defending champion Bishop McGuinness and a solid Winston-Salem Prep team.
Mount Airy goes to Ashe County on Monday, hosts Surry Central Wednesday and visits North Surry on Friday.
Mount Airy 59, WS Atkins 56
WS Atkins19 17 13 13 — 56
Mount Airy17 18 10 14 — 59
WS Atkins: Carpenter 4, Tierra Wilson 18, Sydnie Rogers 18, Mercer 2, Davenport 2, Armani Hampton 12
East Surry: Jasmine Varney 18, Alex Atkins 17, Mikayla Seivers 3, Davi Barbour 7, Alexis France 5, Ayano Shelton 6, Halee Ratcliff 3