Going into its second contest against Mount Airy, North Surry coach Shane Slate wanted to see how much progress his girls basketball team had made over the opening month of the regular season.
The Lady Hounds fell to the Lady Bears by one point in the first meeting, but on Friday night, North Surry flexed its defensive muscle by limiting a normally dynamic Mount Airy offense in a 38-26 victory.
“Defensively, we were solid in a lot of areas,” Slate said. “We were good in the transition defense, and in the half-court, I think we were as solid as we have been all season defending the ball-screen.”
North Surry (5-4) handed the Lady Bears (8-1) their first loss of the year, but it wasn’t a smooth game from an offensive perspective.
Neither team could get into a rhythm in the first quarter, as the Lady Hounds carried a 5-4 lead into the second period. Both teams went the final three minutes without a basket.
North Surry gained a little separation in the second quarter, but an 11-6 lead was reduced to 15-12 by halftime.
Mount Airy had an eight-minute stretch in the first half where the Lady Bears failed to score a point. Ayano Shelton picked up her second foul with four minutes remaining in the first quarter, and Mount Airy didn’t score again until she returned to the floor with the same time showing on the clock in the second period.
Shelton led the Lady Bears with eight points overall.
However, North Surry played its best basketball of the contest in the third quarter, when the Lady Hounds were led by Brooklyn Woodbury, who scored six points in the period. She did all of her damage around the rim. North Surry carried a 27-17 lead into the fourth quarter.
“I think (Mount Airy) was keying so much on Mikaela (Johnson) that Brooklyn had a little more room to operate down low. She made her layups and stepped up for us when she had her opportunities,” Slate said.
Despite Mount Airy’s focus on Johnson, the sophomore forward was able to still reach a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. She crashed the glass on both sides and produce six boards on the offensive end.
Johnson and the Lady Hounds’ overall performance on the offensive glass made life difficult for Mount Airy.
“They did such a good job going to the offensive boards that it really just kept us out of transition, because we had to inbound the ball from underneath the basket,” Mount Airy coach Howard Mayo said. “We didn’t make shots, and North Surry did a good job creating second and third opportunities.”
Mayo’s squad looked like it had some life in the fourth quarter after back-to-back threes from Skyler Flippen and Jo Snow made it a 27-23 game, but North Surry accounted for the game’s next nine points to seize back control.
North Surry will be in action at home in the SouthData Winter Classic over Winter Break, while Mount Airy will travel to Galax, VA for the Grayson National Christmas Tournament.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16