CLEMMONS — Mount Airy and South Stokes faced off for the second time in a week Wednesday, but this time with the added pressure of competing in the Frank Spencer Holiday Classic.
Superstar-level play from Saura standout Ben Bowen led South Stokes to a 64-55 victory. Bowen led his team with 26 points and 18 rebounds.
The Bears had walked away with a 73-50 win over the Sauras three days before Christmas. A noticeable absence in the Mount Airy starting lineup was senior Caleb Arrington, who suffered an injury amid a 26-point performance versus East Forsyth on Tuesday.
Despite the outcome of the contest, it was the Granite Bears that were favored after a quarter of play. Mount Airy led 23-9 after eight minutes.
Bowen scored the first five points for the Sauras, establishing himself as a low-post threat early. Greg Greene retaliated with a 3-pointer for the Bears, followed by a coast-to-coast layup by Ryan Graham leading to a 5-5 tie with 5:48 remaining.
P.J. Samuels knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Sauras an advantage. However, this lead would be short-lived as the Bears would outscore their opponents 18-2 over the final 4:47 of the quarter.
Graham and Donavon Greene led the charge for Mount Airy with a combined 18 points in the opening period.
Roles reversed in the second quarter, when the Sauras took over. With only a pair of players scoring in the first quarter, seven different South Stokes players scored in the second. The Sauras outscored Mount Airy 21-6 going into halftime.
A free throw from Wesley Misenheimer and a pair of buckets from Brendyn Spencer opened the quarter for South Stokes. Brady Dudley added to the Sauras’ run with a pair of made foul shots off an intentional foul by Donavon Greene.
It was in the second quarter that Bowen racked up a number of rebounds and blocks to keep the Bears scoreless for extended periods of time. Graham, Mason Corn, and Andrew Isom each notched a two-pointer in the quarter.
A made free throw by Shemar Dalton gave South Stokes a 30-29 lead going into the break.
An invigorating halftime speech by coach Levi Goins fired up the Bears, who started the second half by scoring eight straight. Graham, Isom, and both Greenes scored on the run.
Tyliq Hairston scored the Sauras’ first basket of the half at the 4:50 mark, followed by a trip to the charity stripe by Dudley in which the senior knocked down 1/2.
Graham, in addition to scoring seven in the quarter, helped limit Bowen to only two points. Greg Greene capped of the comeback with a steal and layup at the end of the third quarter.
Corn came out of the gate to score a quick jumper to increase the Mount Airy lead to 46-40 to begin the final quarter of play. A triple from Landon Parsons and a put-back from Bowen put the Sauras within one before Graham recorded his second 3-pointer of the night.
South Stokes continued to chip away at the lead before another Parsons trey gave the Sauras a 50-49 lead.
After South Stokes called a timeout with 4:09 remaining, the Sauras would outscore the Bears 11-5 to close the game. All five of the Bears’ points were scored by Graham. Isom and Donavon Greene both fouled out in the final four minutes.
A costly technical foul by Donavon Greene gave Bowen two easy points from the line as the South Stokes lead grew. The margin became too much for the Bears as South Stokes got revenge with a nine-point victory. However, this game will not count in the conference standings.
Graham led all scorers with 28 points, followed by Bowen with 26, and Parsons with 12.
Mount Airy will play its third game of the tournament this morning at 11 a.m., also at West Forsyth High School.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith