WINSTON-SALEM — The Mount Airy girls narrowly fell to Atkins on Thursday night, and although the game was a highly intense and low-scoring game, the Lady Granite Bears posted their first conference loss of the season by a 36-32 score.
Despite the loss, Mount Airy completes the regular season as outright champions of the Northwest Conference at 11-1 (22-2 overall), while Atkins placed second at 10-2 (18-5).
After the first quarter, Mount Airy held a four-point lead.
Atkins struck first after 30 seconds, but Asherah Smith responded with the first Granite Bear basket. Atkins’ Tyler Davenport swished a 3-pointer and the Camels played with a three-point edge over the Granite Bears for the next four minutes. With less than two and a half minutes left in the first, Madeline Mayfield netted her first score behind the arc. Shaunae Sawyers followed with two from the free-throw line, and Mount Airy took the lead. With 20 seconds left in the opening quarter, Arry Ward claimed her first basket to put the Lady Bears up by four.
In the second, Atkins came out firing, making back-to-back 3-pointers and carried the momentum along with them. The Camels held Mount Airy scoreless the first three minutes of the second quarter. At that point, Smith was fouled on her scoring drive and claimed three points to put the Lady Bears back on top. Smith then drained a three to give her squad a little bit more breathing room but that was short-lived, as Atkins’ Daia Dawkins responded with a 3-point basket of her own to push the Camels back on top. After two, the Lady Bears found themselves down on the board by a score of 19-16.
Mayfield opened the third quarter of play with a nice assist to an open Smith under the hoop. Sawyers worked her way around the right wing and found a comfortable spot to post up and hit a jump shot. Atkins coach Louis Lowery signaled for a timeout with his team down one. However, it was nearly five minutes before anyone scored again. Then Sawyers tacked one three additional points from two trips to the free-throw line, making it a 7-0 run for the Lady Bears and a 23-19 lead. The Camels finally got a basket, and then two foul shots with 43 seconds left on the clock tied the game after three.
Snow quickly inbounded to Sarah Lankford to open the final period before the Camels even knew the play was live. Lankford picked up Mount Airy’s first two points in the fourth. Davenport gathered three points as she was fouled on a scoring drive, followed by a Camel three-point basket and a jumper. The Camels had the lead back, and both teams used a timeout. With a little over two minutes left to play, Lankford drained a three-point basket from the top of the key, and helped pull her team within 31-28. Ward made one from the line and Mount Airy was down two with a minute to play. Smith stole the ball in Atkins’ paint and fed it to Snow. She drove to the basket, scored, and was tripped up a by a Camel defender. She made the free throw, and Mount Airy held the lead by one. But Taylor Blakely swished a 3-pointer for Atkins, which proved to be the game-winner when the Lady Bears were unable to score again. The Camels finished the game with two foul shots and the win by four points.
Smith led the Granite Bears with 10 points. Sawyers added seven and Lankford five.
Mount Airy will be the top seed for the conference tournament next week.