By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 —
The varsity basketball teams of North Stanly hosted their first state 1A basketball playoff games in the school’s history on Monday night.
The No. 5 ranked Comet girls hosted fellow Yadkin Valley Conference foe Union Academy while North’s boys’ squad, also a No. 5 seed, faced No. 12 Mount Airy.
North Stanly 49, Union Acad. 35
In two previous meetings, the Comets had beaten the Cardinals by scores of 60-53 and 50-38.
After a slow start, a solid second quarter helped lift North to a 14-point win over Union Academy.
Gentry Grubb led North (15-9) with 16 points, eight of which came in a big second quarter that the Comets outscored the Cardinals 16-6.
Union Academy (12-14) jumped out to a 6-3 lead before Heidi Smith pulled the Comets ahead 11-9 on a three-pointer in the final 30 seconds of the quarter.
Samantha Hogan put North up for good in the second quarter with a three-pointer 90 seconds into the period. Hogan added six points in the second as the Comets led by nine at halftime.
The Cardinals went several minutes without scoring until the third period, but North shut down Union Academy in the fourth, only allowing two made baskets in the frame.
“We did the little things,” North head coach Greg Speight said.
“We were active on the boards; everyone was rebounding and helping out on defense. I think we played as well as we have all year.”
North Stanly will travel to Kernersville on Wednedsay to face the eight-time defending 1A state champion Bishop McGuinness Villains (23-4), who advanced Monday with a 65-28 win over Voyager Academy.
Regarding Wednesday’s game, Speight said, “We will give it our best shot.”
UA 12 6 10 7 35
NS 11 16 10 12 49
UA – McNulty 3, Sierra Lunn 17, Savannah Fox 12, K. Lunn 4.
NS – Beadle 5, Gentry Grubb 16, Hogan 8, Smith 3, Chandler 5, Scott 9, Almond 3.
Mount Airy 71, North Stanly 66
The Comets found a tall task in front of them on Monday simply due to the size of the Granite Bears as well as an opponent that finished fourth in conference behind three 20-win teams.
Mount Airy took a lead in the third quarter then held off a furious North rally in the final minutes to earn a five-point win over the Comets.
A.J. Atkins led North (22-5) with 21 points while Stephen Misenheimer added 12.
Caleb Horton led three in double figures for Mount Airy (16-9) with 24 points, including 7-of-7 from the free-throw line. As a team, the Bears were 25-of-35 at the foul line and 13-of-17 in the fourth quarter.
North dealt with foul trouble throughout the game in the front court defending against 6’4” Clay Mounce as well as the taller junior, 6’10” Carson Mounce.
The Comets rallied from five down early to take a one-point lead on a Zac Almond bucket with 20 seconds left in the opening quarter.
North led by as much as six in the second before the Bears surged ahead with free throws coming from two personal fouls and a technical foul. The Comets again responded and led by two at the break.
Mount Airy knocked down back-to-back three pointers to open the third quarter and led by as much as nine points before North slowly began chipping away at the Bears’ lead in the fourth.
Tyler Almond knocked down a three-pointer two minutes into the fourth and Dylan Blalock added two free throws to pull within four.
Midway through the final period, Kasey Caulder knocked down a three-pointer from the left corner to give the Comets the lead 57-56.
The lead changed hands four straight times then Mount Airy scored back-to-back to lead 64-59.
Trailing by six late, Luke Gibson came off the bench and drained a three from the corner to pull the Comets within three, 68-65.
Almond then came up with a steal to give North a chance to tie. Atkins then was fouled shooting a three-pointer. He missed the first, made the second and then missed the third free throw. Blalock pulled down the rebound but had the ball ripped out of his hands.
The Bears knocked down free throws in the final seconds to win.
“Rebounding hurt us a little bit,” North head coach Chris Misenheimer said.
“The third quarter really hurt us. We came out a little flat in the third and it took us a while to get going.”
Misenheimer also said that North “did better in the fourth but we just didn’t have enough.”
North graduates seven seniors this season: Atkins, Blalock, Almond, Burris, Kaulder, Jai-Len Harris and Zack Medlin.
“I think we are headed in the right direction,” Misenheimer said in regards to the team’s 22 wins this season, second-most in school history.
MA 14 14 22 21 71
NS 15 15 12 24 66
MA – Caleb Horton 24, Daily 4, Gallimore 7, Clay Mounce 20, Carson Mounce 13, Smith 5.
NS – Caulder 7, A.J. Atkins 21, Gibson 3, Stephen Misenheimer 12, Burris 7, Blalock 6, Almond 9.