Bears clinch share of NW title

First Posted: 2/11/2015

KERNERSVILLE — Clay Mounce had 17 points and 10 rebounds as Mount Airy clinched a share of the Northwest 1A Conference title on Tuesday night, beating Bishop McGuinness 46-39.

With the win, the Granite Bears improved to 17-5 overall. Mount Airy and Winston-Salem Prep finished league play with identical 10-2 records. It’s the best finish in the conference for the Bears since the 2008-09 season. The year prior to that, Mount Airy won the NW title.

Caleb Horton also hit double figures with 11 points for the Bears, who have won eight in a row and 11 of the last 12 games.

“We really did not play well,” coach Levi Goins said. “Bishop had a good game plan and made us work for every point. But it was great to come out with a win on a night where we couldn’t shoot any worse.”

Mount Airy led 12-9 after the first quarter and led 22-21 at halftime. Mount Airy outscored Bishop 14-10 in the third and 10-8 in the fourth.

Carson Mounce had six points and seven rebounds. Jackson Smith had four points. Dylan Gallimore had three points, three assists and no turnovers. Will Sparks and Sihem Smith had two apiece and Isiah Simmons had one.

Bishop was playing without Spencer Wilson, who broke the Bears’ hearts last season with a 50-foot game-winner at the buzzer that got national attention. But although Wilson was out with an injury, the Villains did have 6-foot-9 Will Gardner available. Gardner, who has missed most of the season with an injury, scored 15 points on Tuesday night.

“He played really well,” Goins said. “He stepped up and knocked down some tough shots.”

Ryan Moon and Devon Woods each had eight points for Bishop, which was celebrating its senior night in a gym that has not been friendly for Mount Airy in recent years.

“The last time we won there was Caleb Horton’s freshman year, ” Goins recalled. “He had 16 in the second quarter by himself.”

But the Villains were no match for the red-hot Bears, who appear to be playing their best basketball of the season right now. Mount Airy has posted impressive wins against Winston-Salem Prep and East Surry in the last couple of weeks.

“I’m very proud of our guys and the coaching staff,” Goins said. “It’s nice to reach a goal.”

Goins said his team played well defensively, which helped the Bears overcome an off-night at the other end of the floor.

“(Bishop) really had to work for every shot that they took,” he said. “I told our guys they need to be proud of themselves. The best teams in the nation have nights where they are off. It’s good to win those.”

The No. 1 seed gets a first-round bye in next week’s Northwest 1A Conference tournament. Goins said Mount Airy and Prep will determine the No. 1 seed by a coin toss on Saturday. The first round starts Monday at the higher seeds. The semifinals and finals will be held at Mount Airy High School.

• Also on Tuesday, the Lady Bears fell to Bishop McGuinness 54-48. Jo Snow was the only Mount Airy player in double figures with 13. Alexis France and Ayano Shelton had nine points apiece and Cora Bledsoe chipped in with eight points. Danielle Nieters had 20 to pace Bishop.

Mount Airy (17-6 overall, 8-4 conference) finished the regular season with the No. 3 seed in the NW1A. Bishop (14-9 overall, 6-5 league) closes the regular season at East Surry tonight.

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