First Posted: 2/13/2009
The last time Mount Airy and East Wilkes met in boys basketball action, the Granite Bears had to hold off a strong upset bid from the Cardinals. Last night in the first round of the Northwest 1-A Conference tournament, that was definitely not the case.
While the visiting Cardinals did cling to a second quarter lead, the Bears depth and offensive attack proved too much for their opponents to handle, with Mount Airy advancing easily, 73-41.
After trailing 26-23 early in the second quarter, the Bears used a 17-4 run before the half and a 20-3 scoring advantage in the third quarter to pull away for the win.
Robbie Rives led the way for Mount Airy with 17 points on the night, including five 3-pointers and three in the final minutes of the first half.
Mount Airy coach Kevin Spainhour said the second quarter run was vital to the Bears victory.
We werent getting a whole lot of movement on the offensive end and every time theyve played us they have done a really good job of cutting down our penetration, Spainhour said. From the four minute mark on, we started really getting a flow offensively, we got some more movement. When weve got people moving and the ball moving and not so much dribbling then we start getting some stuff.
Mount Airy led by as much as nine points in the first quarter but the Cardinals made a run to get back close to start the second.
East Wilkes point guard Chris Vannoy, one of the Cardinals main ball handlers and top scorers, picked up his third foul just two minutes into the second quarter, taking him out of the game and leaving East Wilkes one major option down.
The Bears capitalized, using 3s from Rives and Torrance Hamilton, along with strong inside play from E.J. Valentine and Justin Collier to take a 39-28 lead into the locker room.
Rives picked up where he left off in the second half, drilling a 3-pointer and setting the tone for the rest of the game.
The Cardinals could not overcome Mount Airys bench play and full-court press and the Bears cruised into the second round, 73-41.
With a possible match up with North Stokes looming Tuesday, Spainhour said he feels like his team is certainly hungry to get a chance to prove themselves worthy of a conference title after falling to NW 1-A leader Bishop McGuinness twice during the regular season.
Weve got a team full of winners, Spainhour said. They are not used to not getting what they want. Our practices have been really good because they know they came up a little short in the regular season. There is absolutely an edge about them and they want another shot at Bishop.
Senior Robbie Rives agreed with his coach.
Absolutely, Rives said. After losing to Bishop twice I dont think anybody is giving us a chance. We are going to go out and do everything we can to get to them. The conference tournament doesnt mean a lot for the state playoffs, but as for momentum, it means everything. If we can beat North Stokes and beat Bishop it will give us a ton of momentum. It really doesnt mean anything but momentum and pride.
Earlier in the evening, the Bears girl counterparts had a much tougher time with South Stokes, holding on to advance, 55-52.
Mount Airy stormed to a 15-5 first quarter lead but fell behind afterwards, allowing South to crawl back and eventually take a 26-24 halftime advantage.
Bears coach Howard Mayo said the run by South was not necessarily good play on their part or poor play on his teams side.
I thought it was a combination, Mayo said. I thought South Stokes played better and I thought we did some things that we hadnt done. When youre playing a team for the third time in 10 days, they decided they wanted to hang with us this time. Give South Stokes a lot of credit, I thought they played extremely hard.
Turnovers and missed opportunities kept the game close, but when Danielle Williams hit a jumper from the left elbow with just under six minutes to play the Bears took the lead for good.
Mount Airy hit the double bonus with 5:30 left in the game and rode the free throw line to the win, hitting 12 of 18 fourth quarter free throws.
Junior Ellie Case (who hit a halfcourt shot at halftime of the boys game to win $8) led her team with 13 points, also scoring her teams final six points on free throws, finishing 7 of 10 in the fourth quarter from the line.
Taylor Hiatt added 12 points and 7 rebounds, with senior Maggie McKee adding 4 points and 9 rebounds.
Mayo said he was happy with the win and the late game foul shooting, but that he expects more.
Its big but for us the past few games weve been shooting 80 percent and this is a little disappointing, Mayo said. Our goal is higher than that. The good thing is that we know we are capable of doing better so the kids are looking forward to stepping up in the next game and doing better at the free throw line.
With a rematch with East Surry set for Tuesday night, Ellie Case said she is looking forward to the matchup.
You know who I want to see, Case said. Its a big rivalry, we play good against them and I am excited.
Teammate Maggie McKee said the desire to face East Surry again in front of a home crowd was a big factor in the Bears second half push.
That was a lot of motivation at the end of this game to get to play one of our rivals again, especially on our home court, McKee said. We did not play our best, but we stuck it out and when we needed to, we came through.
Times for both the girls and boys games will be announced Monday.
Mount Airy 73,
East Wilkes 41
East Wilkes 13 15 3 10 41
Mount Airy 20 16 20 17 73
East Wilkes Ethan Lyon 14, Chris Vannoy 13, Bryan 8, Gregory 3, Tharpe 2, Prevette 1
Mount Airy Robbie Rives 17, Wade Moody 10, Drew Joyce 10, Collier 9, Miller 7, Valentine 6, D. Bobbitt 5, Hamilton 5, T. Bobbitt 2, Moore 2