By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
Friday, February 1, 2013 —
Streaks were broken and a career achievement benchmark was passed on Tuesday night in basketball by the varsity teams from Stanly County that play in the Yadkin Valley Conference.
South Stanly travelled to Gray Stone while Albemarle hosted North Moore.
North Moore 50
The Albemarle girls’ basketball squad increased their lead for sixth place in the Yadkin Valley Conference and stayed a game behind Chatham Central for the final guaranteed state playoff spot with a 68-50 win over North Moore.
Two individuals had huge nights in the game, one wearing the royal blue and white Bulldogs colors.
Albemarle junior forward Akela Branch broke the 1,000-point plateau in the game, finishing with 24 points and adding 13 rebounds, four steals and three blocks. Branch was 11-of-17 from the field.
Freshman Kyleigh McLendon continued her strong season on varsity for the Bulldogs (5-10, 4-5 YVC), adding 23 points including 6-of-8 from the three-point arc.
The other strong individual performance came from North Moore’s Jalisa Davis, who led the Mustangs (10-7, 6-5) and all scorers with 30 points.
“The girls played four quarters of team ball. We moved the ball well on offense; we worked the ball inside and kicked it out,” Albemarle head coach Elbert Branch said.
Branch also praised McLendon’s efforts from the three-point arc. adding that the Bulldogs “played their best game all year.”
Regarding Akela’s 1,000th point, the head coach and niece of the junior said that it was “a great accomplishment,” adding that 1,000 points was “something she wanted. She set her mind to it and she reached it. It goes to show that she has potential and can do anything she wants to do.”
Albemarle travels to North Rowan (8-7, 8-2) tonight.
NM 5 18 14 13 50
A 9 22 20 17 68
NM – Jalisa Davis 30, Dunmyer 4, Loutz 2, Marten 2, Little 2, Horn 1.
A – Akela Branch 24, Kyleigh McLendon 23, Currie 7, Bruton 6, Hudson 4, Davis-Hill 4.
Gray Stone 32
South Stanly 29
The Gray Stone girls’ varsity squad hosted South Stanly on Tuesday night needing a win to stay in the battle for the final two spots into the YVC postseason tournament.
Gray Stone senior guard Cat Harward, as her senior project, held a fundraiser at Tuesday’s game as the team wore pink shoelaces and headbands to support breast cancer awareness. Donations were also accepted at the game to benefit the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund.
Harward played a big part on the court as well, leading Gray Stone with 14 points and helping the Knights break a losing streak with a 32-29 win over the Rebel Bulls.
The Knights (5-13, 2-9 YVC) stopped an 11-game losing streak with the win and moved into a three-place tie with East Montgomery and South for seventh place in the Yadkin Valley Conference standings.
South Stanly (3-14, 2-9), playing in their second game as many nights, was led by Chelsey Culp’s 11 points.
The Bulls jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first minutes of the first quarter, but Gray Stone rallied to take a 10-7 lead on a Harward three-pointer at the 6:41 mark of the second period.
South rallied to take the lead on free-throw shooting in the second, hitting 6-of-10 free throws, with one Steely Russell bucket in between, for an 8-0 push over the next five minutes to lead 15-10 with 1:27 left in the first half.
Gray Stone used an effective press in the second half to slow down South’s offense and create offense. The Knights tied the game in the third on a Shannon Efird bucket with 1:47 left in the period. Gray Stone then assumed the lead on an Erin Ansbro free throw and an Alley Deese bucket with 1:04 on the clock.
South narrowed the gap to one point with 1:34 left in the fourth quarter on a Culp bucket, but the Knights ran the clock down, forcing a South foul. Ansbro hit a free throw to give Gray Stone a 32-29 lead with 30 seconds left. The Bulls had a chance to tie the game with a three-pointer with 12 seconds left, but South turned the ball over.
Finally, Chelsey Culp’s three-quarter shot at the buzzer fell well short and the Knights held on for the win.
“Our effort tonight was phenomenal; we won on effort and heart,” Gray Stone head coach Robert Stack said.
Gray Stone’s road game at Chatham Central that was scheduled for last night will be played next Wednesday, Feb. 4.
The Knights will host North Rowan (8-6, 7-2) on Friday night. The Cavaliers won Tuesday night 91-21 over East Montgomery.
South Stanly hosts Chatham Central (6-10, 5-5) on Friday.
SS 5 10 7 7 29
GS 4 8 11 9 32
SS – Chelsey Culp 11, C. Russell 9, S. Russell 6, Smith 2, Whitley 1.
GS – Cat Harward 14, Deese 8, Taylor 3, Ansbro 1, Sullivan 4, Efird 2.
South Stanly 62
Gray Stone 44
In the boys’ varsity game on Tuesday night, visiting South Stanly needed a win to maintain sixth place in the conference standings, while host Gray Stone took the floor still looking for their first win of the season.
The Knights kept the game close in the first half, but a critical defensive adjustment by the Rebel Bulls led to a 62-44 win.
Wes Smith led three in double figures for South Stanly (6-11, 5-6 YVC) with 20 points. Bernardo Granados added 15 points and Michard Richardson added 14.
Alex Wang paced Gray Stone with 14 points.
Gray Stone jumped out to a 6-3 lead in the first quarter before the Bulls pulled ahead with a 6-0 push to lead 9-6 with 3:55 left in the first.
South opened the second period with another 6-0 run, forcing a Knights timeout, but Gray Stone rallied to keep the game close. Trailing 18-10, the Knights took advantage of a four-minute scoring drought from South to pull within three points 18-15 on a Reid Huckabee basket.
The Bulls answered with an 8-1 push over the final 1:48 of the period to lead 26-16 at halftime.
In the third quarter, South held Gray Stone to 3-of-13 shooting in the period while hitting 8-of-15 shots, several coming on layups from a full-court press.
“Our press worked; the guys bought into playing defense and played off that energy,” South head coach Mike Crump said.
In the fourth quarter, the Bulls led by as much as 30 points before the Knights rallied to score 21 points in the period and make the final margin 18 points.
Gray Stone will host North Rowan (14-3, 10-0) on Friday night while South Stanly hosts Chatham Central (4-11, 3-7).
SS 9 17 19 17 62
GS 8 8 7 21 44
SS – Wes Smith 20, Bernardo Granados 15, Michard Richard-son 14, Johnson 6, Holt 3, Burris 2, T. Smith 2.
GS – Alex Wang 14, Mansfield 9, Latimer 7, HillJennings 5, Singletary 4, R. Huckabee 3, W. Huckabee 2.
North Moore 50
The efforts of the Albemarle boys’ basketball are not going unnoticed this season by the pollsters in North Carolina. Albemarle was ranked eighth this week in the current NCPreps 1A state basketball poll.
Much of that ranking has come on the Bulldogs’ winning ways, as Albemarle’s current winning streak reached 13 games on Tuesday night with a 68-50 home win over North Moore.
Bryan Blanton led the Bulldogs (13-1, 9-1 YVC) with 17 points, hitting 7-of-13 from the floor and 2-of-5 from behind the three-point arc. Deon Christian added a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while T’Kyle Williams each added 11 points.
“It was a good win against an improving North Moore team. We had too many turnovers but it’s a good conference win,” Albemarle head coach Al Andrew said.
Andrew also praised Blanton’s efforts, saying that he “was outstanding, especially in the first half. He was aggressive offensively, and, as usual, played very hard defensively.”
First place in the Yadkin Valley Conference will be on the line tonight when the Albemarle Bulldogs travel to Spencer to take on North Rowan (14-3, 10-0). In the opening game for Albemarle this season, the Bulldogs lost at home to the Cavaliers 54-37.
NM 15 8 10 10 50
A 19 15 15 18 68
NM – Qua Davis 11, Chisholm 9, Landon 8, Bullard 5, Davis 2, Spivey 2, Purvis 2, Richardson 2, Troxler 2.
A – Bryan Blanton 17, Deon Christian 11, T’Kyle Williams 11, Currie 8, Autry 4, Ridenhour 4, Ellis 3, Nivens 3, R. Baldwin 2, S. Baldwin 2, Brown 2.