Saturday’s game between the Mount Airy Bears and the North Surry Greyhounds had major implications for both teams’ seasons.
The home Granite Bears were coming off a loss to the state’s second-ranked 1A team, Winston-Salem Prep, and will next face the state’s fourth-ranked 1A team, Bishop McGuinness. A loss to their county rival would derail the Bears’ momentum heading into the Bears’ five-day break.
North Surry, meanwhile, was amid its longest win streak of the year. The Greyhounds had won three straight after dropping their first three conference games. A win versus an impressive Bears squad would do a lot for them heading into the final stretch of conference play.
With everything on the line, it was Mount Airy that emerged victorious, 53-47, behind Caleb Arrington’s 20 points.
North Surry knew it was in for a tough one when Mount Airy scored five seconds into the game. Like clockwork, Donavon Greene tipped the ball to Ryan Graham, who found a cutting Arrington for an easy bucket.
The Greyhounds certainly didn’t falter at the impressive passing of the Bears, scoring on their first possession as well. Eli Riggs took it one step further by knocking down a 3-pointer to put the Hounds up 5-2.
Donavon Greene scored the first of his 15 points with 6:15 left in the first quarter. Donavon went on to score eight in the first quarter alone, including a pair of free throws that put the Bears ahead 13-12.
Mount Airy ended the quarter with five straight points to go up 16-12. The Bears would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game.
A quartet of free throws by North Surry cut the Mount Airy lead to 17-15 before Mount Airy went on a 10-0 run.
Graham began the run with a 3-point dagger and concluded with a triple from Arrington.
Up 27-15 with 3:46 remaining, Mount Airy wouldn’t score again until the very end of the quarter.
Ryan Ward ended the Bears’ run with a 3-pointer. Nick Badgett followed Ward’s shot up with a triple of his own, capitalizing on a miscommunication by the Bear defense.
An 8-0 run for North Surry cut the lead to 27-23 with less than a minute remaining in the half. Isaac King put the home team up 29-23 with a layup to close the quarter.
The worst possible thing happened to North Surry in the third quarter: Arrington got hot. The senior guard began the quarter with a pair of free throws and didn’t slow down.
The highlight of Arrington’s nine-point quarter was an and-1 3-pointer that, after making the foul shot, put Mount Airy up 39-27.
Another 3-pointer from Ward kept the Hounds in the game but slowly fading. With only two field goals in the quarter (the other coming from Evan Marion), Mount Airy extended its lead to 44-31 with only eight minutes to play.
Arrington added another and-1 to start the fourth quarter and score his 20th point. However, North Surry was able to bounce back from its abysmal third quarter and mount a 7-0 run.
Carson Draughn sparked the run with a layup over King. Draughn notched seven of his eight points in the final quarter.
Graham ended the near three-minute scoring drought by Mount Airy only for Draughn to knock down a 2-pointer and keep the Bears’ lead at 10.
A trio of missed free throws by Mount Airy nearly allowed the Greyhounds to get back in the game. However, the Hounds’ effort was too little, too late as the Bears held on for a 53-47 victory.
Arrington led all scorers with 20 points, followed by Donavon Greene with 15, and North Surry’s Ward with 13.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith