From the looks of Donavon Greene’s 2017-18 basketball debut, you’d never think the 6’3” forward was just six days removed from football season.
Greene and the rest of the Granite Bears finally got to play a basketball game Friday night, less than a week after several members of the team completed a football season as state runners-up, and 45 days after teams were allowed to begin practice.
He responded with a game-high 19 points to go along with 13 rebounds and five blocked shots, and Mount Airy claimed an 80-70 victory over visiting South Iredell, which entered the contest as MaxPreps’ 11th-ranked 3A team in the state.
“He was strong tonight. I was pleased, especially once he got going,” said Mount Airy head coach Levi Goins of Greene.
The game wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. The Bears trailed 22-18 early in the second quarter, but then went on a 23-1 run that spanned halftime before the Vikings (5-2) finally made another basket about three minutes into the third quarter.
Mount Airy went on to lead by as many as 27 points in the third quarter before Goins cleared his bench. Some sloppy play by the reserves, coupled with South Iredell leaving its starters in and putting full-court pressure on the Bears’ backups, allowed them to close the gap to 10 points with 32.5 seconds remaining. Goins put his starters back in to restore order.
“That was unfortunate. We gave up way too many points in the fourth quarter, but overall, I’m still happy that we got a win on our first night,” said Goins. “They’re a good basketball team, and we had a lot of first-game jitters, and our football guys were only on their fifth day, so it was to be expected.”
The game began with the Bears looking like a team in its first game, along with some silliness by the visitors, who had a player disqualified for two unsportsmanlike technicals, one prior to the start and another for hanging on the rim after a dunk less than two minutes in. Despite this, the Vikings looked strong in the early going and led by as many as six points. The Greene brothers — Donavon and senior Gregory, scored eight points between them late in the quarter, which ended on a dunk by Donavon and a 17-15 lead for the Vikings.
South Iredell was ahead 22-18 with 4:17 left in the first when the Bears finally found their stride. At the same time, the Vikings strangely turned into brick masons, missing 11 of 13 attempts from the free-throw line in the second quarter. The Bears took advantage, as Greg Graham and Caleb Arrington began to find lanes to the basket in the Iredell defense. Arrington gave Mount Airy its first lead at 24-22 on a driving scoop shot with 3:06 left before the break. Gregory Greene added a putback, and then Graham grabbed a rebound, went coast to coast, and sank a reverse layup to make it 28-22. Donavon Greene had a tip-in with five seconds left in the half and the Bears led 30-23 at the half.
Greene, Arrington and Graham all had baskets to start the second half, and not long after the Vikings ended the 23-1 run, Donavon Greene added his third dunk of the night. Mount Airy had a monster 28-point third quarter, with Arrington and Donavon Greene each scoring seven.
Goins called time-out with 3:48 left in the fourth quarter with a 72-48 lead, and pulled out all of the members of the regular rotation. But South Iredell wasn’t ready to give up, and went on a 20-6 run over the next 3:06 before the Bears’ coach put a stop to it by re-inserting his starters.
Graham and Arrington had 16 points each and Gregory Greene 15 for the Bears.
The Bears will host Panther Creek High School tonight at 6:30.