By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
Friday, March 1, 2013 —
For the second time in as many seasons, the Albemarle Bulldogs travelled to Huntersville to take on the Lake Norman Charter Knights in the state 1A playoffs.
Last year’s game was in the first round, whereas Wednesday night’s contest was in the second round of the state playoffs with the winner to face the Winston-Salem Prep/North Moore victor on Friday.
A long scoring drought in the first half proved to be the difference as the Bulldogs’ season came to an end with a 61-46 loss to the Knights.
T’Kyle Williams came off the bench Wednesday night to lead Albemarle (21-4) with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field.
Malik McCormick led four in double figures for Lake Norman Charter (23-4) with 18 points, hitting 8-of-13 from the field and 2-of-4 at the free-throw line. Jamon Cunningham added 12 points for the Knights including 8-of-11 at the free-throw line.
In front of a raucous student section Wednesday night, the Bulldogs matched Lake Norman Charter shot for shot in the first two minutes before the Knights opened up a 7-0 run, forcing an Albemarle timeout.
The Bulldogs closed the gap to four points on a Bryan Blanton three-pointer with 4:12 left in the period, but scored just two points in an eight-minute span going into the second period. The host Knights outscored Albemarle 20-2 over that stretch and led 31-11 with 4:31 remaining on the clock in the second period.
Albemarle narrowed the gap to 11 with a 9-0 run over the next three minutes but Lake Norman Charter hit two free throws with no time left on the clock to take a 33-20 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs were 7-of-18 in the first half (38.9 percent) while the Knights, after shooting 56.3 percent in the opening quarter (9-of-16), cooled off slightly and was 4-of-15 in the second quarter for a 41.9 percent mark in the first half.
In the third quarter, Albemarle trailed 39-22 and scored six quick points to cut the deficit down to 11 points. The Knights responded in the final 2:30 of the period scoring five points to extend to a 16-point lead after three.
Baskets by Williams and Blanton cut the lead to 12 with 6:14 left, but the hosts quickly pushed the lead back to 16 and hit 7-of-14 free throws down the stretch.
For the game, Albemarle was 18-of-39 from the field (46.2 percent) while Lake Norman Charter finished 22-of-50 (44 percent).
“In the second round of the playoffs, you are going to face a good team,” Albemarle head coach Al Andrew said.
“[Lake Norman Charter] is good defensively, quick and athletic. They are good and they proved it on their home floor. “
Regarding his team, Andrew said, “Our kids fought hard. They are a great group of kids that tried hard all season long. We have a great group of senior leadership that will be difficult to replace.”
Andrew wraps up his 20th season as head coach of the Bulldogs with his second 20-win season in three years.
A 11 9 10 16 46
LNC 20 13 13 15 61
A – Ellis 9, Christian 6, Blanton 5, Brown 6, T’Kyle Williams 10, Currie 1, Ridenhour 2, Autry 7.
LNC – Davis Elkins 14, Whicker 2, Mobley 2, Jamon Cunningham 12, Marques Hill-Wilson 10, Malik McCormick 18, Scearce 2, Worthy 1.