Don’t worry, Lady Bear fans. Angela Mayfield isn’t going anywhere.
Roughly 26 hours after the first-year Mount Airy girls’ basketball coach earned her first victory, she earned her first signature win, as her Lady Bears pounded North Surry 55-40 in the Ron King Gym on Wednesday night.
After the game, she was asked if she might consider retiring on top.
“I’m in it for the long haul,” she said. “This is a great group of girls and I enjoy coaching them very much. This a great place to coach, and I enjoy the support we get.
Mount Airy (2-0) entered the contest widely perceived as the underdogs, particularly being on the road against a highly regarded Lady Hounds team that had previously been challenged only by 4A opponents. The Lady Bears did more than challenge North Surry. The last lead for the home team came on Maggie Hawks’ layup with 1:33 remaining in the first half. Twenty seconds later, Arry Ward knocked down a 3-pointer from the left baseline to give Mount Airy a 21-19 lead, and baskets by Lexi France and Shaunae Sawyers extended the margin to 25-19 by halftime.
The Lady Bears kept pouring it on as the second half got under way. Madeline Mayfield hit two free throws. This was followed by a baseline jumper from Asherah Smith and a trey off the right wing by Sawyers to give the visitors a 33-19 advantage two minutes into second half.
“I think our girls were so eager to get on the basketball court and play somebody,” said Coach Mayfield. “I’m glad that we had the game last night (a 71-11 win over Walkertown), because I think that helped us get the first-game nervousness out of the way.
“They were ready to play, and that energy just showed up on the court tonight.”
North Surry (4-3) tried to get back into the game, exploiting a matchup problem that Mount Airy had with 6’2” freshman forward Elle Sutphin. Sutphin, who led the Lady Hounds with 20 points, began posting up France and Smith on the blocks. She scored three baskets in a 10-2 North Surry run that pulled the Lady Hounds back within 35-29 with about 90 seconds left in the third quarter.
Coach Mayfield had seen enough, and called time out at the 1:28 mark.
Coming out the break, the Lady Bears worked the ball around, out-hustled North for a loose ball rebound, and finally ended the run when Smith got open from the top of the key and drained a three. At the other end, Ward blocked a Lady Hound shot and started a Lady Bear fastbreak the other way, then cut to the basket for a putback when the initial shot didn’t fall. Just like that, the lead was back to 40-29, and North would never again reduce its deficit to single digits. Smith swished a jumper right before the end of the quarter to match her team’s largest lead to that point.
Mount Airy led by as many as 20 points in the final quarter. The highlight of the final eight minutes came on a play with about four minutes left in the game, with the Lady Bears on a break with a 50-32 lead. Smith saved an errant pass on the baseline and somehow knocked the ball back inbounds to France, who drew a foul while scoring against two North Surry defenders.
The Lady Bears, despite being at a significant height disadvantage in the paint against Sutphin and fellow six-footers Mikaela Johnson and Martha Holt, played superlative defense and frequently prevented those players from getting the ball anywhere near the basket.
“Defensively is where we made the difference,” said Coach Mayfield, whose roster includes no player taller than 5’10”. “We stepped up and made some big defensive plays at critical times, and we were able to get out and get some easy baskets at the other end.”
France led the Lady Bears with 18 points, including eight of the team’s 11 first-quarter points. Sawyers added 12, Smith 11, and Ward five. For North Surry, Johnson was the second-leading scorer with 10 points. The only other Lady Hound with more than one basket was Hawks, who scored five.
Having made a loud statement in their first two games, the Lady Bears will try to make it 2-0 in Northwest Conference play when they travel to North Stokes on Friday night. The Lady Hounds will be at Northwest Guilford that same evening, and then get a chance at revenge on Tuesday at Mount Airy.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.