By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
Sunday, December 22, 2013 —
The Albemarle Bulldogs varsity basketball teams returned to Yadkin Valley Conference West play on Friday night with a home doubleheader against Union Academy.
Union Academy 41
The one-two scoring punch that Albemarle has had for the past two seasons harkens back to the days when guard Oscar Robertson and center Lew Alcindor, a.k.a. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, were a scoring tandem for the Milwaukee Bucks in the early 1970s.
In the case of the Bulldogs, either guard Kyleigh McLendon or center Akela Branch have led Albemarle in scoring in each game this season, with both players average in the neighborhood of 20 points per game.
Branch had another monster night for the Bulldogs (5-2, 1-1 YVC-W) with 30 points and 15 rebounds. She was 12-of-21 from the floor and 6-of-8 at the foul line, and defensively added three blocks and a team-high six steals.
Through the first seven games, Branch leads the team in points per game (21.7) and rebounds per game (16.7). She also averages 3.4 steals and 4.1 blocks each game as well.
McLendon added 20 points, including 8-of-9 shots at the free-throw line and two made three-pointers.
As a team, the Bulldogs had 21 steals in the game, with Tiffani Currie adding five steals for Albemarle.
“It was a great win for us; our defense really stepped up with a total team effort,” Albemarle head coach Eric Davis said.
“Akela and Kyleigh really stepped up and carried us offensively. I am very proud of these girls for their commitment, dedication and hard work.”
Union Academy (6-2, 0-1) suffered its second loss in three games after having opened the season with five straight victories, including wins over Pine Lake Prep, Covenent Classical and East Montgomery.
The Bulldogs will play two non-conference games during the holiday break. Albemarle will play at West Stanly on Thursday at 8 p.m. and then face South Stanly in a non-conference game at West Stanly on Friday at 6.
UA 7 7 12 15 41
A 5 17 19 18 59
A – Akela Branch 30, Kyleigh McLendon 20, Burleson 2, Howard 2, Currie 2, Bowman 2, Smith 1.
Union Academy 37
The Bulldogs faced an improved Union Academy squad on Friday night that came into the game at Albemarle with four wins after not having won a game last season.
Albemarle used another balanced effort and got points from every player in the scorebook in a 36-point rout of the Cardinals.
Lee Autry posted a double-double for Albemarle (5-0, 2-0 YVC-W) with 20 points and 13 rebounds, shooting 6-of-11 from the field and 8-of-10 at the free-throw line.
Senior guard Bryan Blanton added 13 points, knocking down 6-of-10 shots from the floor.
As a team, the Bulldogs were 29-of-67 overall (43 percent) and 11-of-15 at the foul line.
Terrace Ellis led Albemarle with seven assists and four steals, scoring seven points as well in the game.
Albemarle returns to action on Thursday in the Tiger Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament presented by Brickhouse at Mount Pleasant. The Bulldogs take on Central Cabarrus at 12 p.m., then will play games on Friday and Saturday.
UA 11 7 6 13 37
A 21 16 17 19 73
A – Lee Autry 20, Bryan Blanton 13, Ellis 7, K. Sellers 7, Ridenhour 6, Nivens 5, Ratliff 4, G. Sellers 4, Baldwin 3, Lilly 2, Harris 2.