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Defense sends Albemarle women to second round

Paul “Bear” Bryant was speaking of football when he said “offense sells tickets, but defense wins
championships.”

But members of the Albemarle women’s basketball team will say they agree wholeheartedly with the
legendary Alabama coach, because the team’s 26-2 record has been built on relentless and aggressive
defensive pressure, applied full court from opening whistle to final buzzer.

In Tuesday’s first-round playoff contest at AHS, what appeared to be a fairly even match in the first few
minutes evolved into a rout midway through the second period as South Stokes succumbed to the Bulldogs’
in-your-face defensive style 64-32.

An early 3-pointer by the Sauras’ Tatyana Childress staked the visitors to a 3-0 advantage, but Kianna
Ridley sank two driving layups on consecutive trips down court to push her team in front to stay at the 6:33
mark of the first quarter. Zycoria Tillman, Kristyn McLendon, and Armani Baldwin added baskets over the
next five minutes to push Albemarle to an 18-11 advantage one quarter in.

For evidence of the early aggressiveness, quickness and hustle of the home squad, one need look no further
than the first period turnover stats, in which Albemarle forced six Saura turnovers in eight minutes,
half of which led directly to Bulldog points.

Second period play saw Albemarle continue its defensive stranglehold, holding South Stokes to only one field
goal and two free throws in the quarter, but the Bulldogs’ most impressive defensive effort went on display in
the third quarter, as the Bulldogs limited the Sauras to only seven shots from the field in the period.

As the home squad converted steals and forced turnovers to points, the lead swelled to 51-21 by
quarter’s end.

Both teams used the final period to provide reserves with playing time, as Albemarle cruised to the win.

“This was a team effort,” said Bulldog Assistant Coach Elbert Branch after the game. “We played really well.”

Tillman led the Bulldog scoring with 16. Baldwin (12) and Ridley (10) also posted double figures.

Childress led South Stokes with 12.

Albemarle advances to second-round play on Thursday night, hosting conference foe Gray Stone Day. Tipoff
time is 7 p.m.