CLEMMONS — No one will be underestimating the value of Caleb Arrington to the Mount Airy boys’ basketball team anytime soon. Or Donavon Greene, for that matter.
The Granite Bears’ first two nights of play in the Myers Tire Bracket of the Frank Spencer Holiday Classic had in many ways revolved around Arrington, the team’s senior co-captain. The 6’0” guard was helping to spark a Mount Airy rally against East Forsyth in Tuesday’s opening round before going down midway through the fourth quarter. The Bears couldn’t finish the rally and lost by seven. On Wednesday night, they played without him and lost to a South Stokes team they had blown out before Christmas.
This dropped Mount Airy into the seventh-place game of the bracket on Thursday morning. Unfortunately for Parkland, Arrington’s leg had healed enough for him to play. And with the Bears’ outside game back at full strength, all that was left was for Greene to break the Mustangs, which he did.
The junior big man annihilated Parkland on the inside, scoring a career-high 34 points and leading his team to an 88-73 victory in the gym at West Forsyth High School.
Greene scored a dozen baskets and was 10-11 from the free-throw line during a game where Mount Airy (5-3) fell behind early but then dominated the last three quarters. The Mustangs (7-6) led 20-10 early in the second quarter, but the Bears dominated the rest of the game. The only reason the game was as close as 15 points was due to an 11-0 Parkland run late in the game against reserves.
The early part of the game was all Arrington. He hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter, and when Mount Airy found itself down 10 a minute into the second, he drained his third trey and the Bears began their charge. Starting with that shot, they outscored Parkland 31-14 over the final seven minutes of the first half, finally taking the lead at 34-32 when Gregory Greene stole the ball and threw long to Arrington for a layup. After a defensive stop, Donavon Greene got space underneath and jammed one home. Mount Airy scored nine of the last 11 points of the quarter and led 41-34 at the break.
The Mustangs scored the first five points of the third quarter, and Gregory Greene picked up three quick fouls to give him four on the night. However, none of thus stopped the Bears. Donavon Greene scored nine in the quarter, Ryan Graham had an old-fashioned basket-and-foul 3-point play, and the the elder Greene returned to the fray after a few minutes and never did pick up a fifth foul. Mount Airy ended the quarter in command at 61-43.
A minute into the final period, Donavon Greene had another dunk, which he completed in spite of a foul, and made the bonus free throw to push the lead to 66-45. He, Arrington and Graham started getting to the free-throw line with regularity against the Mustangs, and coach Levi Goins put in the reserves at the 2:30 mark with his team on top 82-59. Parkland went on an 11-0 run, and Goins put his starters back in with 66 seconds remaining to get the game over with, which they did.
Arrington had 24, Graham 18 and Gregory Greene 10 for Mount Airy. As a team, the Bears made 34 of 40 free-throw tries. Freshman Camian Shell had 20 to lead the Mustangs, who also got 15 from David Russell and 13 from Joshua Reid.
The Bears will host the junior Australian National Team on Jan. 2 and then resume conference play on Jan. 5 at home against North Stokes.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.