PILOT MOUNTAIN — Drizzle was falling outside, but three-balls were raining down on the baskets as the Lady Bears beat the Lady Cardinals on Senior Night, 58-46.
Keri Fulp and Lauren Thompson were honored before tipoff, but it was Mount Airy that came out firing early and often from long range.
The Bears had seven threes in the first half. Five came from Alex Atkins, who had all 15 of her points by halftime.
When Atkins went to the bench for rests, Jasmine Varney hit a three in each of the first three quarters on her way to 13 points in the game.
Davi Barbour added one three-pointer and also two three-point plays in the second half. She finished with 11 points.
Six minutes into the game, the Bears led 9-1.
East Surry’s Gabi Jessup hit a three-pointer, but Atkins hit three of her own, and Symone Simmons made a free throw as the lead grew to 22-3 in the second quarter.
East Coach Keith Gunter called a timeout with 4:43 left in the half.
Fulp and Thompson then sparked a 9-2 run to cut that 19-point margin down to 24-12. The Bears led 31-19 at the break.
“I thought we did a good job coming out and dictating the tempo in the first quarter,” said Bear Coach Howard Mayo. “It looks better when the ball is going in the basket.”
Fulp scored seven points in the third quarter, but Mount Airy outscored East 17-9 to build a 48-28 lead going into the fourth.
Jessup swished three long balls as the Cards cut the 20-point lead in half at 54-44, but by that time there were 31 seconds left.
Fulp led East with 17 points, and Jessup was close behind with 16. Thompson scored six, Emma Slater four and Kacie Markle two. Sydney Mosley, one of the team’s top scorers, was held to just one free throw.
After the three Bears in double figures, Mount Airy received scoring from Simmons with seven points, Seivers six, and Kathryn Beasley, Dana Brown and Ayano Shelton with two each.
Beasley sported heavy tape on her right thumb and wrist and didn’t attempt any jumpers in the game. Still, she led the Bears in rebounding with eight.
Atkins led the Bears with five assists, and Seivers added three. Simmons led the defense with three steals.
“In order to be successful, we’ve got to look to shoot the three,” said Mayo. “Because we were knocking down the three, it created some driving opportunities for Mikayla. And I thought Dana Brown had a nice drive in there.”
With the win, the Bears sewed up fifth place in the Northwest Conference, finishing a game ahead of Winston-Salem Prep at 8-8, 15-9 overall.
Surry Central is the fourth seed and will host Mount Airy in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament on Monday evening.
East Surry (18-6, 10-6 in the Northwest) is the third seed and will host Prep on Monday.