The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Local Sports

February 25, 2014

North Stanly boys' win YVC West tournament championship

Sunday, February 23, 2014 — The last win for a North Stanly varsity boys’ basketball team over Albemarle came on Dec. 30, 2009, when Chris Edwards led the Comets with 14 points in a 46-45 win over the Bulldogs.

Albemarle entered Friday’s Yadkin Valley Conference West finals game with North Stanly having won nine previous matchups versus North and having only lost once in 23 games.

The two teams met in the finals Friday night in Pfeiffer University’s Merner Gym where a strong second-half effort lifted the Comets to the YVC West title 60-55 over the Bulldogs.

A.J. Atkins led North Stanly (22-4) with 19 points. Dylan Blalock added 12 points and a number of key offensive rebounds, and Stephen Misenheimer had 10 points.

Bryan Blanton scored nine of his team-high 13 points for Albemarle (22-2) in a late fourth-quarter rally that came up just short.

The Comets hits 37 percent overall from the floor (20-of-54) while the Bulldogs were 21-of-58 (36.2 percent). Albemarle hit 8-of-13 from the foul line and North was 13-of-20 overall, including 11-of-17 in the fourth.

North Stanly had the biggest lead of the first quarter, building a 13-8 lead with 1:25 left in the first quarter. After an Andre Ridenhour bucket and a Bryan Blanton three-pointer tied the game, Dylan Blalock's tip-in at the buzzer put the Comets up by two after one.

The second quarter went back and forth as the two teams either tied the game or the lead changed hands five straight times. Two Kani Sellers three-pointers put the Bulldogs up four midway through the second, but twice buckets by Stephen Misenehimer pulled the Comets to within one.

Albemarle increased its lead in the final minute of the first half with buckets from Laquavius Ratliff and Sellers gave the Bulldogs a five-point halftime lead.

The third quarter belonged to North Stanly as the Comets regained the lead on back-to-back threes from A.J. Atkins to open the period. Dylan Blalock added two baskets in a 12-0 run for North to start the second half.

Albemarle cut the lead to three before a Luke Gibson three and an Atkins layup in the final two minutes put the Comets up eight after three quarters.

North Stanly maintained a lead between nine to 12 points for the first six minutes of the fourth, leading by 11 with 1:46 left before the Bulldogs began to rally. Shawn Baldwin’s three-point play with 1:08 left opened a 8-0 run for Albemarle with Blanton scoring five points to pull the Bulldogs within five.

Albemarle pulled to within one possession with 21.4 seconds left on a Trey Nivens basket, but North’s Gibson hit two clutch free throws with 18.1 on the clock to put the Comets back up by the game’s final margin of five points.

“Our confidence level was up,” North head coach Chris Misenheimer said.

“I told my guys that Albemarle is one of the best teams in the state in the 1A division, if not the best. We have proven twice that we can play with them.”

Misenheimer also talked about Blalock, saying that “he did an excellent job on both ends of the boards.”

“(North Stanly) played a good game; I congratulate them,” Albemarle head coach Al Andrew said.

“We had trouble scoring tonight; their defense was good and our offense was not. (North) was more aggressive going to the boards.”

Both teams will be at home likely in the opening round of the state playoffs, with Albemarle still retaining the No. 1 seed from the YVC West.

“To go undefeated (in conference in the regular season) and beat (North) twice is really doing something. Monday morning, everyone is 0-0 and it starts all over,” Andrew said.

Misenheimer said that the win for North “gives us momentum and shows that we can play with anybody if we take care of the ball and limit teams to one shot. The credit goes to the guys. They have busted their butts since June.”

NS    15    9    17    19    60

A    13    16    4    22    55

NS – A.J. Atkins 19,  Dylan Blalock 12, Stephen Misenheimer 10, Caulder 9, Gibson 5, Burris 3, Almond 2.

A – Bryan Blanton 13, Sellers 9, Ellis 7, Ratliff 6, Nivens 6, Ridenhour 6, Autry 5, Baldwin 3.

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