Winston-Salem Prep left little to chance and nothing in doubt in coasting past Mount Airy 95-58 on Thursday night in the second round of the NCHSAA 1-A state playoffs.
Prep (23-3) notched its 20th straight win behind a balanced scoring attack that saw five players reach double figures.
Daivien Williamson led the way for the Phoenix with 23 points, including 13 in the second quarter when Prep made its big run to pull away.
Chaz Gwyn finished with 16 points, 11 of which came in the first quarter as Prep started hot and never let up. The Phoenix finished the game with 11 3-pointers, seven of which came from Gwyn and Williamson.
K.J. Watson added 15 points, Zack Austin had 14, and Corey Rutherford chipped in 12 for Prep, which will now face Northwest 1-A rival South Stokes on Saturday at 6 p.m. with a berth in the Western Regional on the line.
It was the fourth time this season that Prep and Mount Airy have faced each other, and Coach Andre Gould made sure his team didn’t take any of the three previous wins for granted.
“This is like a mini conference tournament and these guys are dialed in right now,” Gould said. “I let them know before the game that it will be one of two things at this point in the season. Either tears of joy, or tears of sorrow. Which tears do you want to have? We’re just playing real hard right now and I don’t think people know exactly what’s driving us. When you see other people celebrate on your floor, that came in and took something from you, we need to take that back now. This was just another step towards that.”
Gould was referring to losing to Lincoln Charter in the quarterfinals of the state tournament last season. He flashed a photo of Lincoln Charter that captured a few of its players celebrating after the win, something he said the entire Prep team has as the screenshot on their phones.
“That’s our motivation right there,” Gould said. “They open their phone every single day since last year, and that’s what they see. That’s what’s driving us right now. Take nothing away from Mount Airy or South Stokes, because those are two tough opponents and its unfortunate that the state decided to have us all play against each other this week. We know we can’t take South Stokes lightly, either. We’ll be ready to play again Saturday.”
The Phoenix came out on fire and scored the first eight points of the game and also had a 7-0 run towards the end of the first quarter to lead 25-16.
It was during the second quarter when Prep made its move and left the Granite Bears in the dust.
Mount Airy (17-9) cut its deficit to 29-23 after a jump shot by Ryan Graham, but then went scoreless for the next 3:21 and watched as Prep went on a 17-0 run to break away. Williamson started the run with a layup and ended it with a 3-pointer as the lead swelled to 46-23.
Prep led 56-34 at halftime, then scored the first seven points of the third quarter to salt the win away. Mount Airy never got its deficit under 24 points after that, and the game went to a running clock late in the fourth quarter once the lead reached 40 points.
Caleb Arrington led the Bears with 20 points, while Gregory Greene and Ryan Graham added 12 points apiece.
Coach Levi Goins of Mount Airy said he knew it was going to be a tough night as soon as the jump ball left the referees hands.
“We didn’t think our guys were focused once the tip happened, and we could see that early,” Goins said. “That’s the best shooting performance I’ve seen in high school basketball. Their team is capable of an avalanche. They hit two in a row and the rim just seems to get huge and you could see how their energy just continued to go up. We cut it to six in the second quarter and I thought we got our feet under us a little bit, and then we just couldn’t stop them. We’ve seen spurts of that and we’ve been able to stop it in the past—but they’ve beat us four times this year. Credit to them. They were all great. I don’t think anyone can beat them when they shoot like they did tonight.”
Williamson said that he thinks that Prep’s best basketball is still ahead of it.
“We know we need to put together another good game Saturday against South Stokes because they are another tough team,” Williamson said. “We’ve beat them twice already. We match up pretty good with them. The biggest thing for us right now, Coach Gould has been telling us, is that we have to put together our five best games right now. We got the first one, now we need to get four more.”
Mount Airy: Caleb Arrington 20, Ryan Graham 12, Gregory Greene 12, Zach Hall 2, Alex Hall 4, Donavon Greene 8
W-S Prep: Daivien Williamson 23, Chaz Gwyn 16, Zack Austin 14, K.J. Watson 15, Corey Rutherford 12, Essih Aird 4, Justice Goodloe 2, Jaheim Woodbury 3, Jalen Crawley 4, Anthony Sellars 2