Mount Airy’s Tuesday night basketball games followed a familiar script.
A blowout victory for the Lady Bears, ranked No. 2 in the state by MaxPreps.com among 1-A teams, was followed up by a hotly contested boys game, in which the Granite Bears, also ranked No. 2 in the state, played an outstanding fourth quarter and won going away. In other words, a repeat of Friday night, only with a different team from Stokes County playing the foil.
The Bears outscored North Stokes 21-11 in the decisive fourth quarter after struggling to put the Vikings away for most of the night. Fortunately, Mount Airy had the services of senior big man Clay Mounce for the entire game, and they needed every bit of him to overcome the visitors, who led by four points late in the third quarter before the Bears went on a 17-5 run to open an eight-point lead midway through the fourth.
“It was a tough game all night,” said Mount Airy coach Levi Goins, whose team improved to 7-0. “I really felt like we failed to execute at times. Typically, when we failed to execute on the offensive end, they’d come back and hit us in the mouth with a three at the other end.”
For quite a while, it looked like the Vikings, who came in with a misleading 3-4 record, might pull the upset. The Granite Bears jumped out to an early 13-3 lead, dominating most of the first quarter. Mounce opened the game with a steal and dunk, and then his team went on an 11-0 run after North Stokes’ second possession netted a 3-pointer. When Ryan Graham hit a 10-footer with 2:25 left in the opening period, Mount Airy had a lead it wouldn’t match until the end of the game.
The Vikings battled their way back into the contest, led by 6’1” freshman point guard Zach Chesnet. He sparked an 8-0 run for North Stokes, capped by a driving layup and bonus free throw after a foul early in the second quarter to bring his team within two. After that, neither team could shake the other. Chesnet scored nine of his team-high 17 points in that quarter alone, and when teammate Jackson Moore hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 2:12 before intermission, the score was tied. The lead changed hands twice in the final two minutes before the Bears took a 25-23 lead to the locker room.
“I was very impressed with (Chesnet’s) demeanor on the floor,” said Goins. “He controlled the game from his perspective. We had never seen him before, but we knew about him and we knew he could play.”
In the third quarter, the teams traded blows and neither team could gain much separation. The Vikings earned their biggest lead on a 3-pointer with about a minute left in the period, but two baskets from the Bears knotted it at 40 going to the last eight minutes.
With seven minutes left, Chesnet pulled his team even for the final time, hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key to answer one that Mount Airy’s Dylan Gallimore had just nailed. Mounce followed with a 10-footer for a 47-45 Bear lead, then stole the ball near halfcourt and went in for a dunk. That swung momentum firmly on the Bears’ side, despite a North Stokes timeout. After the break in the action, Mounce worked his way inside and hit two free throws to make it 51-45. Gallimore stole the ball near the sideline on the Vikings’ next possession, tossed it ahead to a teammate, and then the ball went to Mounce again without even touching the floor.
North Stokes’ Logan Stevens wouldn’t let his team go down without a fight, hitting back-to-back threes. The second one cut the Mount Airy lead to 55-51 as time ran under two minutes. Mounce answered with a dunk off an assist from Caleb Arrington, and then Graham assisted Jackson Smith for a basket with 42 seconds remaining to make it 59-51. Finally, the Vikings were out of answers.
“I’m proud of our guys for pulling through and making the necessary adjustments, and executing at the end,” said Goins. “Hats off to Coach Anderson for having his kids ready for us, but we have a lot of things to improve on.”
Mounce, who played just eight minutes in last Friday’s game, played nearly all of this one, and led everyone with 27 points. Smith added 12 and Graham eight. For North Stokes, Jackson Moorefield had 14 points and tallied a dozen.
Lady Bears 69, North Stokes 13
The last game opened with a 10-0 run by Mount Airy, and they did even better this time, jumping out to a 17-0 lead before Megan Condon hit a layup for North Stokes with 28 seconds left in the first half. The Lady Bears led 19-2 at the end of the first quarter and 42-7 at halftime.
Much of the damage was done by Skyler Flippen, who hit three 3-pointers and scored 13 first-half points, and by Madeline Mayfield, who scored 11. The Lady Bears scored 14 of their 40 points from the free-throw line, frequently using their quickness to draw shooting fouls from the overmatched Lady Vikings (1-7).
“We’re very fortunate to have a lot of kids who work very hard at basketball, and it’s really showing right now,” said coach Howard Mayo, whose team controlled the game even when the reserves were on the floor. “These two games have given us a chance to see some different combinations of players play, and it’s given us a chance to work on our zone defense, which has been good for us. I was really pleased with the way we passed the ball.”
Mount Airy continued to extend its lead throughout the second half, and forced the invocation of the “mercy rule” with 6:23 remaining, when Flippen hit a three for her only points after the break. That gave Mount Airy a 63-13 lead, and Mayo, who had been subbing regularly throughout the night, cleared the bench shortly thereafter.
All but one of the Lady Bears scored, led by Flippen’s 16. Lexi France added 13, Mayfield 10, Megan Fleming 6, Jo Snow and Ayano Shelton five each, Madison Hall four, Cora Bledsoe and Kiva Allen three each, and Sadie Brooks and Sarah Lankford two each.
Condon led North Stokes with five points. Lauren Charleville, Corinne Hall, and Myranda Cook each scored three.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.