Last spring, after a 21-win season for the Lady Bears of Mount Airy, Ayano Shelton fulfilled her goal of becoming a college basketball player when she signed a national letter of intent with North Greenville University in South Carolina.
The 5’10” freshman recently had one of the best games of her career with the Crusaders, coming off the bench to help North Greenville win an important Conference Carolinas game over Pfeiffer, 75-68 on Tuesday night. Shelton was credited with eight points on 3-for-3 shooting, made two free throws without a miss, and grabbed three rebounds.
She checked into the game for the first time about five minutes into the first quarter and played for roughly three minutes, collecting a rebound and an assist. Shelton returned to the game 20 seconds before the end of the opening period and stayed in the game to open the second, hitting a jumper 30 seconds into the quarter to give North Greenville a 20-15 lead. With 8:19 left in the half, Shelton gave the Crusaders the lead back at 22-20, finishing off a fastbreak pass from teammate Cameron Carter. She did it again at 6:49, this time making two free throws to put her team on top 24-22. At the 6:06 mark, she knocked down a jumper to extend the lead to 28-22.
On Nov. 17, Shelton was in North Greenville’s starting lineup for a game that pitted three former local standouts. She scored six points in 19 minutes against Bob Jones University, a non-NCAA school that started two former Surry Homeschool stars, Hannah Tompkins and Sydney Bedsaul. Tompkins led her team with 18 points, but BJU was badly outmatched as a team, and North Greenville won the game 85-53. A massive 31-5 second quarter made most of the difference.
Shelton came off the bench with seven points and seven rebounds in a 62-55 win over Tusculum on Dec. 8. After Tusculum had cut a 14-point lead to five with 46 seconds remaining, Shelton sank two free throws to help the Crusaders hold on for the win.
North Greenville is currently 4-9 overall and 1-5 in conference play, its win over Pfeiffer being its first in league action. The team is young, with five freshmen and two sophomores on its 14-player roster.
The team returns to action on Saturday at home against King, then hosts Mount Olive on Monday night.