By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
Sunday, January 26, 2014 —
The varsity basketball teams of Albemarle and North Stanly met at the L.R. Chandler Gym on the North Stanly campus on Wednesday night in games that strongly impacted the top of the standings of the West division of the Yadkin Valley Conference.
In the girls’ game, Albemarle needed a win over North Stanly to pull into a tie for first place with the Comets and the Gray Stone Knights.
On the boys’ side, the Bulldogs and Comets entered Wednesday’s game tied for first place in the YVC West.
North Stanly 85
Both the Comets and Bulldogs came into Wednesday’s game at North on five-game win streaks, with both teams having lost to the same team, First Assembly of Concord, in the holiday tournament at Mount Pleasant.
Trailing by 15 after three quarters, the host Comets knocked down nine three-pointers in a fourth-quarter rally that came up just short in a four-point loss to the visiting Bulldogs.
Lee Autry led four in double figures for Albemarle (13-1, 5-0 YVC-W) with a career-high 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field.
Bulldog junior forward Trey Nivens added 20 points including 5-of-8 at the foul line and senior guard Bryan Blanton had 16 points with a 6-of-8 night at the free-throw line.
Laquavius Ratliff also reached double figures with 14 points.
A.J. Atkins also led four in double figures for the Comets (12-2, 4-1) with 20 points. Stephen Misenheimer had 18 points, Tyler Burris scored 15 and Kasey Caulder had 13.
The combined 174 points in the game were the most in a game for both teams this season, with the Bulldogs’ 89 points setting a season mark for the most points scored in a game this season. North’s offensive total of 85 points was the second-most for the Comets this year.
Overall, Albemarle was 34-of-63 from the field (54 percent) despite hitting just 3-of-10 from beyond the three-point line.
Albemarle head coach Al Andrew said that Autry’s efforts on Wednesday were “sensational,” adding that it was a fun game and fun atmosphere and that his team “showed good composure at the end.”
Regarding his team’s rally, North Stanly head coach Chris Misenheimer said he was proud of his team’s efforts, specifically “being down double digits in the second half and not folding.”
“We had our chances down the stretch but just could not capitalize; we will try to learn from this and move forward.”
A 22 14 29 24 89
NS 15 13 22 35 85
A – Lee Autry 25, Trey Nivens 20, Bryan Blanton 16, Laquavius Ratliff 14, Ellis 9, Ridenhour 3, Sellers 2.
NS – A.J. Atkins 20, Chris Misenheimer 17, Tyler Burris 15, Kasey Caulder 13, Almond 8, Reid 5, Blalock 4, Gibson 3.
North Stanly 38
The last season that Albemarle and North Stanly were both in the same conference was back in the 2008-09 season, when both were members of the 10-team Rocky River Conference.
That season, the Comets finished 18-0 in conference play, with the Bulldogs right behind North in second place with a 15-3 mark.
Playing in the smaller YVC West this season, Albemarle trailed North Stanly and Gray Stone in the divisional standings after opening YVC West play with a four-point loss on Dec. 17 at Gray Stone.
North Stanly, on the other hand, earned four wins in four games against the other four teams in the division and sat atop the divisional standings heading into Thursday.
A huge second quarter by the Bulldogs helped lift the visitors to a 21-point win, forcing a three-way tie in the standings.
Akela Branch and Kyleigh McLendon each had 15 points to lead the Bulldogs (13-2, 4-1 YVC-W).
Branch had another double-double with 20 rebounds, and shot over 50 percent from the field, hitting 7-of-13 shots.
Tiffani Currie just missed a double-double for Albemarle with seven points and nine assists, adding six steals defensively as well.
Gentry Grubb led the Comets (7-5, 4-1) with 29 points on 8-of-23 shooting from the field, including 3-of-8 from behind the three-point arc.
As a team, the Bulldogs shot better than the host Comets. Albemarle was 26-of-59 overall (49 percent) while the Comets were 11-of-48 overall (23 percent).
North shot better than the ‘Dogs at the free-throw line, hitting 12-of-21 shots (57 percent) while Albemarle was 5-of-19 at the line (26 percent).
Albemarle dominated the rebounding numbers 42-23, with freshman Samantha Hogan’s five rebounds leading for the Comets.
“North has some good shooters, and our focus coming in was to challenge them,” Albemarle head coach Eric Davis said.
“It was a great game and a great atmosphere; I was happy we came out with an important win. At this stage, we just need to continue focusing on getting better every day.”
A 12 25 16 6 59
NS 9 11 8 10 38
A – Akela Branch 15, Kyleigh McLendon 15, Ti. Currie 9, Montigue 5, Hudson 4, Ta. Currie 4, Williams 3, Howard 2, Smith 2.
NS – Gentry Grubb 29, Beadle 4, Smith 3, Hogan 2.