It’s not an exaggeration to say that Mount Airy’s second-round victory in the NCHSAA 1A girls’ basketball playoffs was over in 61 seconds.
By the time that Lincoln Charter head coach Kim Allen called time-out with 6:59 remaining in the opening period, the host Lady Bears already held a 9-0 lead, with all nine of the points scored by the same player. Even after the break in the action, the visitors never recovered from their initial shell-shock, and trailed 33-5 after one quarter on their way to a 68-25 blowout.
The victory sends Mount Airy, now 26-2 on the season and ranked No. 2 in the state according to MaxPreps.com, into a Saturday night third-round contest against Northwest 1A Conference rival Atkins. The Lady Camels, who have faced the Lady Bears three times this season and won once, outlasted East Wilkes 71-61 in another Thursday night game. Atkins is 22-6 on the season and ranked 10th in the state by MaxPreps. The game will start at 6 p.m. at the Howard Finch Gym.
“I’m grateful that (Atkins) has to come here, but once you get to the third round, it really gets started,” said Lady Bears coach Angela Mayfield. “We just have to make sure that we come in here and have our ‘A’ game on.”
What little chance Lincoln Charter, the third-place team in the Southern Piedmont Conference, had of beating Mount Airy was probably gone even before the Lady Eagles (19-8) arrived. The team’s best player, 5’8” junior Katie Baich, was unable to play. It’s unlikely Baich, who averages 15 points per game, would have made any difference in the outcome, but her presence certainly would have made the game more competitive.
It was clear from the start that it wasn’t.
Asherah Smith gave the Lady Bears a 3-0 lead after 12 seconds, knocking down a 3-pointer from the right wing. Eighteen seconds later, she made it 5-0 by finishing after running out on a fastbreak. Seconds later, Jo Snow stole the ball at halfcourt and again hit Smith running out. Then Shaunae Sawyers did the same, swiping the ball from a Lincoln Charter guard and tossing ahead to Smith.
When the Lady Eagles finally scored after their coach’s timeout, they failed to get back on defense and Madeline Mayfield got the two points right back by scoring off a long pass. Then Smith stole the ball and gave someone else a chance, assisting on a layup by Sawyers to make it 13-2. Twenty-five seconds later, it was her turn again, adding two more on a stickback. At the 4:54 mark, Arry Ward hit a long three from the top of the key. The lead hit 20-2 some 30 seconds later, when Sawyers threw a pass from halfcourt to Mayfield underneath. Allen called a second time-out, but the Lady Bears kept pouring it on. Sawyers hit a 15-footer, then Snow scored finishing another fastbreak and Smith worked her way back inside for another deuce and a 26-2 lead at the 2:55 mark. Snow scored the last seven Lady Bear points of the first quarter on two uncontested layups and a 3-pointer.
“We’ve been talking the last few days about energy,” said Coach Mayfield. “I showed them some film from earlier in the season, and that we were playing with more energy then. It’s not that we’ve been playing badly, but I felt like earlier this season, we had more energy collectively as a group. I think we took that to heart and came out with a lot more energy tonight.”
The rest of the game was essentially a repeat of several blowout wins enjoyed by the Lady Bears earlier in the season. Reserves Tatyana Long and Shalin Revels played much of the second quarter and both got into the scorebook before halftime, with Mount Airy on top 45-11 at that point. The home team reached the 40-point threshold for a running clock when Madeline Mayfield scored at the 6:09 mark of the third quarter for a 51-11 lead, and Coach Mayfield went to her bench for good with 3:48 left in the third and a 58-14 edge on the scoreboard.
Snow led Mount Airy with 17 points, followed by Smith with 15 and Sawyers with 10. Mayfield added eight.