West Stokes snapped Mount Airy’s four-game winning streak with a narrow 58-54 thriller Monday night.
The Granite Bears controlled most of the game, but a couple of big runs gave the Wildcats the edge.
The Cats have a big front line, but instead of trying to match that height, Coach Levi Goins stuck with the small lineup that has worked well for the Bears of late.
It seemed to be working at the tip as the Bears came out with an 11-5 spurt.
Then the Bears had two minutes of sloppy play with two charges committed, one traveling call and a lost dribble. West Stokes capitalized with a 10-0 run for a 15-11 lead seconds into the second quarter.
Senior point guard Austin Taylor hit a midrange jumper and a three-pointer to retake the lead 16-15. That seemed to get the Bears back on track, and the home team led 29-26 as Isiah Simmons brought the crowd to its feet with a buzzer-beating basket.
Postponing the game from Friday to Monday didn’t hurt attendance as the bleachers were well filled for a school night.
“It was a good crowd,” said Goins. “Especially considering how we played over there earlier in the season.”
The first matchup Dec. 11 was a 62-33 blowout in King where the halftime margin was 24 points.
This time around, the coach, “we gave them everything we had for sure.”
Caleb Horton at the two spot and Darius Gwyn at the four give up a lot of size to most everyone they have to guard, said the coach. They use their quickness to stay in front of the player, but sometimes that disadvantage leads to foul trouble.
That happened in the third quarter when Gwyn and Horton were on the bench with fouls, and Taylor also sat down with a rolled ankle.
Taylor did come back in the game, but after scoring seven points in the first half, the senior didn’t score in the second half.
The Bears scored a couple of times at the start of the third quarter to go up seven or eight points, the coach said. Then West Stokes finished the period on a huge run to take a 44-35 lead into the fourth.
Mount Airy kept up the intensity and in the final minute had a chance to cut the lead to one.
Gwyn made a steal and passed ahead to Taylor for a score. However, Gwyn was called for traveling on the pass, and the final margin was four.
West Stokes isn’t just tall, said Goins. The players are talented, well-coached, smart and seasoned. At one time, the Bears had one senior and four underclassmen playing together. While Goins was proud of their effort, the young men still have some seasoning to do of their own.
The team can be a bit of a roller coaster at times, he admitted, but hopefully as the season progresses and guys have more experience, the play will get steadily better.
Khaleel Dailey led the Bears with 21 points, including eight out of the Bears’ nine in a second-quarter push.
Horton had eight, Mounce seven, Gwyn and Simmons four each and Dylan Gallimore three.
Mounce led the Bears with seven rebounds, while Dailey and Gwyn had six each.
The Bears travel to North Stokes today.