WALNUT COVE — South Stokes won the first quarter, but the Granite Bears controlled the rest of the basketball game for a 53-38 win Friday night.
The Sauras jumped out to a 19-12 lead in the first quarter, but a decisive third period gave Mount Airy the lead for good.
“They had a really good first quarter; they shot the ball well,” Bear Coach Levi Goins said of the Sauras. “Luckily they didn’t convert from the free throw line, or it could have been uglier.”
Some early fouls hurt the Bears’ pressure defense. Point guard Austin Taylor picked up three in the first quarter and had to sit down.
Freshman Dylan Gallimore was thrust into the spotlight.
It didn’t take long for Dylan to settle down and handle the ball well, according to the coach. The freshman also hit two big three-pointers.
South Stokes scored 19 points in the first eight minutes. After that, the team scored the same 19 points over 24 minutes.
The Bears narrowly took the second quarter 9-7 to cut the margin to five points at the half.
Then in the third quarter, the Bears took control 16-3 to take a 37-29 lead.
“We tried to run with them in the first quarter,” said Goins. When the fouls mounted, Goins switched in some zone looks to protect the players and slow down the Sauras.
At the same time, he instructed the team to run the offense more thoroughly. Rather than taking the first decent shot, the boys kept moving and passing to make the Sauras work harder on defense, he said. Slowing the pace down seemed to work out well.
Darius Gwyn didn’t score in the first half, but he put up nine points in the pivotal third period. The Bears took the lead with about two minutes left in the quarter and then outscored South Stokes 16-9 in the fourth.
Khaleel Dailey led the Bears with 16 points, and Gallimore was second with 10. Carson Mounce and Gwyn had nine each, and Taylor came back from his foul trouble to give six points. Sean Best added two and Caleb Horton one.
At the end of November and early December, the Bears lost three straight games, including their first two conference games. Since then, the Bears are 5-1 including four straight wins. That improves the team to 7-4, 2-3 in the Northwest Conference.
The Bears will be tested in their next game, going to top-seeded Winston-Salem Prep (11-1, 5-0 in the Northwest).