Greenville’s Bears hitting the court

Former Lady Bear Ayano Shelton drives the baseline in a game against Winston-Salem Prep during her high school career. Shelton is a sophomore this season at North Greenville University and starting for the Division II Lady Crusaders.
2016 Mount Airy graduate Clay Mounce, shown here in a game during his senior season, redshirted last year as a freshman at Furman University. He made his college debut against Butler last month and is a regular member of the 7-3 Paladins’ rotation.

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Following an outstanding career with Mount Airy High School, Clay Mounce took last winter off as a redshirt for Furman University.

The 6’7”, 200-pound forward is back this year, and already making an impact for the Paladins, a member of the NCAA Division I Southern Conference.

Mounce is a member of Furman’s nine-man regular rotation, one of the top reserves on the team with an average of 13.3 minutes player per game. On Saturday, he played 13 minutes in a 101-72 rout of South Carolina State, scoring five points on 2-3 shooting and 1-2 from the free-throw line.

As a team,. the Paladins are off to a 7-3 start, winning three straight since a 93-74 loss to Winthrop on Nov. 29. Furman’s only other losses this season were on the road at Butler and Duke.

In the game with the Blue Devils, who were ranked No. 1 in the country when the teams met on Nov. 20 at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Mounce played 19 minutes and scored seven points. However, Duke was too much for the Paladins as a team, and won 92-63.

The redshirt freshman will get another chance to test himself against a nationally-ranked team on Dec. 20, when the Paladins travel to 20th-ranked Tennessee (9-1). Prior to that, Furman will travel to UNC-Wilmington on Sunday.

Mounce missed the Paladins’ first two games of the season, a blowout of Bob Jones and a nine-point win over Elon, and made his debut when Furman traveled to Butler on Nov. 18. The Bulldogs won 82-65 and Mounce struggled in his first collegiate action, playing nine minutes and missing all six of his shots, but grabbing five rebounds. He entered the game for the first time at the 8:14 mark of the first half, and grabbed his first rebound at the 6:08 mark.

His first points in college basketball came in the next game, at Duke, when he made a 3-pointer with exactly three minutes left in the first half.

In eight games this season, he’s averaging 5.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game on 47.1 percent shooting, seventh on the team in the first two categories and second on the team in shooting percentage among the top players in the rotation.

Mounce’s best game came in the loss to Winthrop, when he scored a career-high 11 points on 2-3 shooting, including one three, and 6-7 at the free-throw line. He played 14 minutes in the game, a contest where Furman started poorly and wasn’t able to rally in the second half.

Shelton starting at NGU

As many fans of the Bears might remember, Mounce isn’t the only former Mount Airy basketball player playing in Greenville, S.C. He’s not even the only member of the Class of 2016 playing there.

Over at Division II North Greenville University, former Lady Bear standout Ayano Shelton has started all eight games this season for NGU, averaging 5.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game for the Lady Crusaders.

She had her best performance of the season on Sunday, although it won’t count in the official statistics because it was an exhibition game against Division I Georgia State in Atlanta. Shelton scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and had four assists in a shootout that Georgia State held on to win 91-89. Shelton and teammate Karen Donehew had shots in the final seconds to tie or win the game, but couldn’t get them to fall.

Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.

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