The Mount Airy girls’ basketball team has been lighting up scoreboards all over the area ever since the team first took the floor back in December. The Lady Bears’ explosive offense has propelled the team to a 19-1 overall record and a No. 3 statewide ranking in the NCPreps.com media poll.
However, head coach Angela Mayfield knows the team isn’t going to make a deep playoff run by simply outscoring everyone in the postseason. For the past several weeks, she’s stressed defense and rebounding to her team, both of which will be crucial when the team faces teams with more size in postseason play.
The work being done by the Lady Bears was in evidence on Wednesday night, when Mount Airy completed a season sweep of county rival Surry Central with a 54-30 victory.
“I really feel like the girls are stepping up to the challenge we have been giving them all season long,” said Mayfield. “We’ve got three games this week and three games next week to finish out the season, and we are really looking to step up the half-court defensively.”
The most impressive part for the coach was that her team won decisively even though the Lady Bears shot the ball poorly for most of the evening. With the exception of junior guard Jo Snow, who scored 13 of Mount Airy’s 14 points in the first quarter, the shots weren’t falling very often for the home team.
That didn’t matter. They made sure the Lady Eagles weren’t making any, either.
Central’s only points of the opening period came on a short jumper by freshman Jacee Busick with 1:41 left. The visitors did better in the second quarter, adding seven more points to their total, but Mount Airy’s defense remained stifling. Early in the second quarter, the Lady Eagles cut the gap back to single digits on a 3-pointer by Claire Via, followed by a short jumper from Taylor Cochran. With the score back at 16-7, the Lady Bears got a free throw from Madeline Mayfield to put the lead back at 10, and then went on a relentless display of half-court defense over the next two and a half minutes,
Seven consecutive Surry Central possessions ended in steals by the Lady Bears. In order, Madeline Mayfield, Asherah Smith, Shaunae Sawyers, Snow, Sawyers, Snow and Mayfield took the ball away. When the run was over, Mount Airy had extended its lead to 22-7. The Lady Bears finally found the range on a few shots, and the first quarter ended with threes by Sarah Lankford and Sawyers to make it a 30-9 game at intermission.
The Lady Bears led by as many as 28 points in the second half, and the lead never dropped lower than 19.
Snow led Mount Airy with 16 points. Sawyers added 12, and Megan Fleming six. For Surry Central, Busick had 12 and Via 10, but no one else had more than four, and only four Surry Central players made it into the scorebook at all.The Lady Bears will go for win number 20 on Friday night at Bishop McGuinness. The Central girls will be at North Surry.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.