DANBURY — A night full of trophies and recognition for the Mount Airy Lady Bears was capped off by a second straight Northwest 1A Athletic Conference Championship.
The Lady Bears (22-2, 10-0) have not lost a conference game since February 9, 2017. Since then, the Bears hold a 14-0 record against conference opponents. The most recent victim was Bishop McGuinness in Friday’s NW1A title game.
Mount Airy left no doubt who the dominant team in the conference was with a 63-33 mugging of the Villains.
Tournament MVP Asherah Smith led all scorers with 26 points, nearly outscoring the Villains herself. Smith had five 3-pointers in the Bears’ victory.
Bishop McGuinness advanced to the championship game with a 53-50 win over East Surry in the semifinals. Defense is what led the Villains over the Cardinals, and defense gave Mount Airy an early scare.
The Lady Bears started slow, missing three layups in the first two minutes of play due to the Villains’ pressure down low. Madeline Mayfield scored the first points of the game in transition of a pass from Jo Snow. This started a 7-0 run for the Bears.
After weathering the initial storm, Bishop scored eight straight to take the lead at 3:11. The Villains defense forced turnovers and missed shots, and were able to get open looks beyond the arc on the other end.
Emily Elliot’s eight first-quarter points led the Villains. Cammie Cooke added a 3-pointer and Bridget Simmons rounded out the team’s 12 points with a layup.
Smith regained the lead for Mount Airy with another 3-pointer. Tatyana Long’s buzzer-beater gave the Bears a 14-12 lead after one quarter of play.
The Villains tried and failed to get Simmons involved more on offense in the first quarter. Simmons was guarded by defensive anchor Arry Ward, who recorded three blocks in the first quarter.
Changes were made and Simmons scored the first five points of the second quarter to put Bishop back on top, 17-14.
Once the Bears figured out how to limit Simmons once again, the tide of the game shifted.
Mount Airy scored 18 straight points following Simmons’ 5-0 run. Three different Bears took turns scoring in the quarter.
Shaunae Sawyers took the first shift by scoring points 15 through 21. Jo Snow took over and scored the next three points before handing the baton to Smith to score eight consecutive points.
Sporadic baskets from Caroline Deal and Simmons weren’t enough to hinder the Bears’ momentum. A 3-pointer by Snow put Mount Airy up 35-21 at halftime.
Bishop’s points scored decreased in each quarter, while Mount Airy continued to increase its’ lead.
Smith began the quarter with seven straight points. The Villains tried to regroup, but they couldn’t but the ball in the basket.
Elliot and Cooke were able to interrupt Smith’s run with points of their own, but it wasn’t enough to impact the game. Smith added two more points to go along with a layup from Snow to give Mount Airy 46 points.
Elizabeth Knox scored the final bucket of the quarter, a 3-pointer with 1:13 on the clock, to make it a 46-29 game.
Bishop began the fourth quarter with two free throws from Simmons. This was just about the only highlight for the team as they only managed four points in the final quarter of play.
Sawyers started a 15-0 Mount Airy run with a baseline jumper at 7:30. Five different Bears scored on the run, with Cydney Boyer making her scoring debut in the quarter.
The final Bishop points of the night came from Lily Role with 2:06 remaining. Boyer’s field goal signalled the end of the tournament.
Mount Airy stood on top of the mountain once again with a 63-33 win.
Smith led the Bears with 26 points, followed by Sawyers and Snow with 12, and Ward with five.
Simmons led the Villains with 11 points, followed by Elliot with nine, and Cooke with five.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith