A battle for county supremacy quickly turned into a one-sided affair Saturday night.
Mount Airy advanced to 16-2 with a 76-59 non-conference victory over Surry Central.
The Lady Eagles (12-7) waited for this night to come for weeks. On January 6, Mount Airy defeated the Eagles 54-24 in Dobson. Only their third loss at the time, Central went on to drop its next three games.
For one quarter of play, the Eagles’ plan seemed possible. Taylor Cochran exploded for 12 points in the first quarter. If not for a storm of 3-pointers from Mount Airy, Central may have taken the lead.
What makes the Lady Bears so dangerous is not just pure talent, but the depth of talent on the team. Three Bears scored at least five points in the first quarter, with all three making at least one 3-pointer.
Asherah Smith, who led all scorers with 31 points, notched a dozen of her points in the opening quarter.
Down 26-19 to start the second quarter, the Eagles cut the lead to four just four minutes in. Joley Cabe and Savanah Atkins led the Eagles’ comeback.
Mount Airy derailed the visitors’ momentum with a 3-pointer from Smith at the four-minute mark. From then until halftime, the Lady Bears outscored Central 14-4.
The Bears made waves on both ends of the floor in their run to end the first half. Arry Ward and Madeline Mayfield locked down the paint and rejected any and all shots within 10 feet of the hoop.
By forcing outside shots, the duo grabbed a number of defensive rebounds that in turn allowed Shaunae Sawyers and Jo Snow to create instant offense. Mount Airy held a significant rebounding advantage with Central’s Taylor Coe on the bench in foul trouble.
The Bears continued to dominate the scoreboard to start the third quarter. Already holding a 44-30 halftime lead, Snow and Smith scored seven straight to give Mount Airy a 21-point advantage.
A layup by Cochran at 6:15 gave the Eagles their first field goal of the second half. With Coe on the bench with her recently acquired third foul, Brooke Snow stepped up in the rebounding department for Central.
Even with an improved interior presence, the Eagles continued to struggle on defense. Smith poured in 10 points in the quarter in addition to Snow’s eight. Despite trading baskets for a while, Mount Airy led 65-42 at the end of three.
Hannah Beasley and Atkins struck first with a trio of foul shots. The Eagle defense even managed to keep the Lady Bears scoreless for nearly two and a half minutes. Elizabeth Heck broke the ice with a layup at 5:31.
Tara Blevins scored her first two buckets of the game in the paint to chip away at the lead. A triple by Cabe and a free throw by Blevins cut the 23-point Mount Airy lead to just 14 with 2:42 on the clock.
Sawyers crushed the Eagles hope for a comeback with a dagger 3-pointer, her second of the night. From that point, Central only managed four points and would lose the game 76-59.
Smith led the Bears with 31 points, followed by Snow with 22, and Sawyers with 12.
The leading scorer for Central was Cochran with 23 points, followed by Atkins with 13, and Cabe with 12.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith