The semifinals of the Lady Bear Holiday Classic will be full of familiar faces.
After an opening day filled with one-sided victories, tomorrow’s second round will include the host school and arch-rival North Surry, along with the Lady Greyhounds’ strongest challenger in the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference, Forbush. Not to mention an old friend in Coach Howard Mayo, whose Galax Maroon Tide beat T.W. Andrews 48-30 in the return of the former Lady Bears’ coach to his old stomping grounds.
Mount Airy played in the first varsity game of the day. The Lady Bears (7-0) did their usual, jumping out to a 24-3 lead on Alleghany by the end of the first quarter and cruising to a 68-31 victory. Next up were the Lady Falcons, who took one of the two Virginia teams, Eastside High of Coeburn, Va., and rolled to a 59-44 win.
The third varsity game had Galax taking on Andrews. This matchup, and Mayo’s return to MAHS, came about in an event he had organized earlier this year while still the head coach of the Lady Bears. After the Virginia native accepted the opportunity to move to Galax in May, one of the teams he’d lined up for the Lady Bear Classic pulled out. When Mayo learned of this, he offered to bring his Maroon Tide team to complete the field.
Mayo’s first-ever appearance in the Bears’ gym as a visiting coach was an easy victory, setting the stage for the nightcap, where North Surry held McMichael to one field go in the first half, holding a 50-8 lead at the break. The entire second half was played with a running clock, and the Lady Hounds moved on with a 67-17 victory.
In tonight’s semifinals, Mount Airy will host Forbush (11-1) at 5 p.m. It will be the first meeting between the Lady Bears and Lady Falcons since the championship game of last year’s Grayson National Bank Holiday Classic, where Forbush downed Mount Airy 72-65 in Galax on Dec. 30, 2015. The second semifinal will pit North Surry (7-5) against Galax (3-2) at 6:30.
“We did watch the Galax game,” said Lady Hounds coach Shane Slate. “They played well, but I’m not surprised with Coach Mayo. “I look forward to coaching against him again, he’s a class act.”
On Thursday, the semifinal winners will meet for the championship at 6:30, following the third-place game at 5.
In the Wednesday consolation round games, Alleghany will play Eastside (4-4) at noon, and Andrews will face McMichael at 1:30.
Mount Airy 68, Alleghany 31
Alleghany, one of the top teams in the Mountain Valley 1A/2A, found itself overmatched by the Lady Bears early on.
Mount Airy scored the first seven points of the contest, and reached a double-digit lead on a 3-pointer by Sarah Lankford less than four minutes into the contest. The Lady Bears applied relentless defensive pressure, forcing four consecutive turnovers at one point and turning two of them into back-to-back threes by Shaunae Sawyers and Jo Snow for a 19-2 lead. The first quarter ended with Mount Airy on top 24-3.
“The girls came out and they were ready to play,” said Mount Airy coach Angela Mayfield. “I loved our energy on the floor and how we supported each other on the bench. This was a great team effort.
“There girls do a great job of supporting each other, no matter what roles they’re playing, and I really like that as a coach.”
Alleghany (6-3) briefly cut the gap back to 19 points in the second quarter, but then the Lady Bears ended the quarter on a 14-4 run and earned their largest lead to that point when Sawyers swished a 3-pointer from 30 feet at the first-half buzzer.
Mount Airy passed the 40-point threshold with 1:51 remaining in the third quarter and the rest of the game was played with a running clock.
Snow had a hot hand throughout the evening and led her team with 25 points in just two and a half quarters of play. Sawyers added 10, Arry Ward eight, Tatyana Long and Madeline Mayfield seven each, Sarah Lankford five, Asherah Smith four and Amber Arnett two.
Cameron Hawkins led Alleghany with 13. Alexis Hoppers had nine.
North Surry 67, McMichael 17
The Lady Hounds could essentially do whatever they wanted against the overmatched Phoenix (3-8), but spent most of the night pounding the ball inside to their three inside players. Elle Sutphin led the team in scoring, with 12 points to go with her four rebounds and three steals, while Mikaela Johnson had 11 to go with her team-high six rebounds. Martha Holt came off the bench and added 10 more.
McMichael called time-out twice in the first four and a half minutes, the first time after Sutphin stole the ball in the frontcourt and took it in for a layup and a 4-0 lead, and again when she had a second steal and fired it ahead to Hannah Moxley for a score that made it 14-1. It was 27-3 by the end of the first quarter and 50-8 at intermission.
“We did a great job with our man (defense) and traps, got some turnovers and some easy opportunities. In the halfcourt, we were patient and got some good looks,” said Slate.
Rounding out the scoring for North were Maggie Hawks with eight, Arin Bunker with seven, Myia West with five, and Moxley and Lexie Eads with four each.
“We have been much better offensively the past three games with our execution,” Slate said. “We had 40 assists in our two games last week, and tonight we had 14 more in the first half. We’re doing a great job of sharing the ball, and it’s made us mach harder to defend.”
By the end of the contest, the Lady Hounds had assists on 19 of their 27 made field goals in the win. Moxley had four, followed with Johnson and Jessy Nichols with three each.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.