DOBSON — The Mount Airy boys basketball team turned up the heat in the third quarter of its showdown with Surry Central on Wednesday night.
The Granite Bears used a dynamic full-court press to force the Golden Eagles into eight of their 18 turnovers, and an 18-3 run to open up the third period allowed Mount Airy to comfortably escape Dobson with a 66-54 victory.
“That’s the first time all season, in games or practices, where I felt like our full-court pressure was great. Not just good, but it was great,” Mount Airy coach Levi Goins said. “We made the game a little hectic and got easy layups off our pressure.”
A 36-24 halftime lead for Mount Airy (2-0) quickly blossomed into a 54-27 lead, and senior forward Clay Mounce was at the heart of the Granite Bears’ attack.
Mounce helped his team build a sizable lead in the second quarter with 12 of his game-high 25 points, but he also displayed a ton of aggression on the defensive side of the ball. He crashed the glass with five offensive rebounds and even had a couple of highlight-reel dunks during Mount Airy’s second-half surge.
“Turnovers just make it a lot easier for us,” Mounce said. “We just stayed aggressive on defense and worked hard to create easy points… Every time we play here, it’s going to be a fight, so it feels good to beat (Surry Central).”
Mounce combined with Ryan Graham for 10 of the Bears’ first 12 points of the third quarter. Graham finished the night with six points that all came from the free-throw line.
Will Sparks was once again a bright spot in the Mount Airy offense on Tuesday. The senior guard posted 15 points despite struggling with his shot from the outside.
Instead, Sparks found some easy lanes to the basket and was able to finish a variety of layups.
“I didn’t feel like we shot too well from the perimeter tonight,” Goins said. “Surry Central was trying to slow us down with their zone, but we still found some great outside looks… We played solid in the first half, and it put us in good position in the second half.”
Cole Leonard led the Golden Eagles (1-2) in scoring for the third consecutive game, this time with 14 points to his name. Surry Central’s offense faced a great deal of pressure all night and struggled to get the ball to Leonard in advantageous positions on the floor.
Chandler Johnson knocked down a couple threes and scored 13 points for Surry Central. The Golden Eagles were at their best when they weathered the Mount Airy storm and were able to locate an open shooter, and Zach Cochran found himself in some space for a pair of three-pointers while tallying eight points.
Mount Airy’s next game will be Friday night at home against the North Surry Greyhounds. While the Bears are ready to take on their local rivals, Goins admits he’s been impressed with their “one day at a time” mentality. However, all of Mount Airy’s attention will now shift to the Hounds.
Surry Central will be back in action that same night, but the Golden Eagles will be on the road in Pilot Mountain to face the East Surry Cardinals.
Snow propels Lady Bears
The girls basketball team from Mount Airy dominated its game from start-to-finish in a 63-28 victory over Surry Central, and the Lady Bears started what would be the theme of the night for Mount Airy basketball in the win.
“We did a great job forcing (Surry Central) into a lot of turnovers,” Lady Bear coach Howard Mayo said. “I think we gave them some different looks, and we applied different pressure during those looks, and it was hard for them to realize where that pressure was coming from.”
Point guard Jo Snow and senior forward Ayano Shelton both missed some easy layups in the first quarter, but they capitalized on their plethora of opportunities. Shelton finished with a game-high 17 points while Snow chipped in 16.
Lexi France also had a solid night. She provided quality rebounding and scored 12 points for Mount Airy.
Surry Central’s leading scorer was junior Sarah Ford, who finished with 12 points. Ford did most of her damage in the third quarter with hard drives and tough finishes at the rim.
Reach Jackson Fuller at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16