By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
Thursday, February 27, 2014 —
The Albemarle varsity basketball teams, both possessing a number-one seed in their respective Midwest Sectional brackets, hosted second-round playoff matchups on Wednesday.
Albemarle 47, Bishop Mc. 46
The Bulldogs found themselves in a pressure-packed situation at home Wednesday night to a solid Bishop McGuiness Villains squad that took the game down to the wire.
Andre Ridenhour’s three-pointer in the final minute lifted the Bulldogs to a one-point win, the team’s narrowest margin of victory this year.
Ridenhour led the Bulldogs (24-2) with 17 points, seven coming in a dramatic fourth quarter.
Nick Efird led three in double figures for the Villains (21-7) with 15.
Albemarle led by 10 in the first after an 8-0 run but Bishop rallied in the second to take a one-point lead. Kani Sellers gave Albemarle the halftime lead with a three-pointer in the final 30 seconds.
The Bulldogs built a seven-point lead in the third but Bishop took the lead early in the fourth on a Tommy Koesters three-pointer.
The lead went back and fourth in the final period as the teams were either tied or led by two points or less the entire period.
Ridenhour twice scored to put the Bulldogs ahead early in the fourth, then Terrace Ellis scored with 1:26 left to put Albemarle up 44-43.
Spencer Wilson gave Bishop the lead back with 55.6 seconds left with a three-pointer, forcing a timeout by the Bulldogs.
The play was designed between Ellis and Lee Autry, but Ridenhour got open on the right sideline and banked in a three-pointer with 40 seconds left, putting Albemarle up one.
Bishop had two shots in the final seconds but lost the ball out of bounds then a Wilson three-pointer from the corner over two Albemarle defenders hit the front of the rim.
“We ran a set but they stopped our screen and roll,” Albemarle head coach Al Andrew said in reference to Ridenhour’s three-pointer.
“Andre was a little lucky on that but this time of year you have to have luck. Andre played a great game all night. When he plays well, we usually play well. He was aggressive and into it.”
The Bulldogs host Mount Airy (17-9) on Friday night at 7. The Bears won at North Moore 67-59 on Wednesday after topping North Stanly by five on Monday.
BM 9 14 8 15 46
A 17 8 7 15 47
BM – Nick Efird 15, Tommy Koesters 12, Spencer Wilson 11, Weathers 2, Webster 2, O’Halloran 2.
A – Andre Ridenhour 17, Ellis 8, Blanton 7, Sellers 6, Autry 5, Baldwin 2, Ratliff 2.
Mount Airy 88, Albemarle 67
The Bulldogs faced a Mount Airy team averaging 59.1 points per game but who set a season high with 80 points in the first round of the playoffs.
Despite a brilliant performance from Albemarle’s Akela Branch, the Bulldogs lost to the Bears on Wednesday.
Branch wrapped up her basketball career with the Bulldogs (23-4) with a season-high 44 points on 19-of-25 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 at the foul line. She added 14 rebounds and four blocks.
Both teams shot around 54 percent in the game, but the Bears knocked down 11 threes in the game while the Bulldogs were 0-for-8 from long distance.
The two teams battled back and forth in the first quarter, but it was the visitors that broke open a lead in the second period with a 10-0 run.
Trailing 32-20 with 4:16 left in the first half, Albemarle retook the lead and outscored Mount Airy 16-3 over the final four minutes to lead by three at halftime.
The Bulldogs led by three midway through the third but Mount Airy outscored Albemarle 19-2 over the final four minutes of the quarter.
In the fourth, the Bulldogs cut the lead to 10 but a 10-1 run by the Bears put the game out of reach.
“Words can not describe how proud I am of these girls,” Albemarle head coach Eric Davis said.
“They worked hard and fought every day to get better. I am grateful to the parents and administration for their support.”
Albemarle wraps up the season in Davis’ first year as head coach with the first 20-win season in five years and the first sweep of both the conference regular-season and tournament titles in a number of years. Branch and senior Kesley Burleson are the two graduating seniors.
MA 20 15 31 22 88
A 18 20 12 17 67
MA – Jasmine Varney 18, Alex Atkins 30, Kathryn Beasley 14, Seivers 8, Barbour 2, France 2, Ayana Shelton 14.
A – Akela Branch 44, Kyleigh McLendon 10, Currie 8, Howard 4, Bowman 1.