Albemarle women claim Mount Pleasant holiday tournament title

Published 1:04 am Saturday, December 30, 2023

The Albemarle women’s basketball team was the only 1A squad in the eight-team Mount Pleasant Holiday Classic.

After wins against 3A Parkwood and 4A Mooresville in consecutive nights, the Bulldogs took the floor Friday in the finals against the 4A Sun Valley Spartans.

The Spartans twice erased leads in the first half Albemarle built, but a huge third-quarter run proved too much as the Bulldogs won the tournament championship 73-60.

Tournament MVP Amari Baldwin helped lead a third-quarter run for Albemarle (9-1) which broke open an even game to that point. Baldwin finished with 29 points, 20 coming in the second half.

With the game tied 35-35, Baldwin’s old-fashioned three-point play spurred an 18-0 run. The junior guard scored 15 during the run as the Bulldogs built a double-digit lead.

“Our intensity just changed because we were just kind of slow coming out of halftime,” Baldwin said. “We had to be on our toes more and look for open shots…we all knew we had to come out stronger in the third quarter.”

Baldwin entered the tournament averaging 26.5 points per game and scored 28 in each of the previous two wins. She has 1,203 career points, third all-time among Albemarle women basketball players.

Sun Valley (7-6) made seven shots from the field in the first half but hit 13-of-16 free throws to keep the game close. The Spartans were 20-of-24 at the line for the game.

Albemarle forwards Jasmine Brown and Bianca Robinson scored 15 of the Bulldogs’ 30 points in the first half and gave the team a 30-29 lead at the break. Robinson finished the game with 18 points and Brown added 16.

Baldwin talked about being on a 1A team taking on teams from schools with larger enrollments.

“(Winning the tournament) shows that we can compete with anybody, and the size of your school really doesn’t matter. It’s the talent and how we play as a team,” Baldwin said.

Albemarle head coach Eric Davis said his team is deep this year, with all 10 players getting significant playing time.

“When you’re dealing with that kind of depth (as an opposing coach), it’s hard to deal with consistently,” Davis said.

He noted the four games where the game was close, Albemarle had four different lineups.

“We’re just so versatile and deep,” Davis said.

Regarding Baldwin, the coach said she “plays with a lot of heart and a lot of discipline. She’s worked hard over the summer; we put the team in general in a lot of different situations over the summer.”

Davis noted Baldwin also averages around nine to 10 steals and five assists per game.

Albemarle’s coach also credited the play of Brown and Robinson, saying Sun Valley was focused on Baldwin in the first half.

“Bianca and Jasmine were doing a good job of sealing (the post); we just have go to do a better job of getting it to them,” Davis said.

Albemarle opens Yadkin Valley Conference play next week at home versus South Stanly.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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