South Stanly men bounce back, win third place at holiday tourney

Published 8:20 pm Saturday, December 30, 2023

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South Stanly’s men’s basketball program has not seen a start to this season like this in a long time.

The Bulls ran off nine wins in a row until suffering the team’s first loss to Corvian Community in the semifinals Friday at the Second Annual Comet Christmas Classic.

South bounced back Saturday against a current Yadkin Valley Conference opponent and claimed third place in the tourney with a 62-42 win over Union Academy.

Gavyn Miller led South (10-1) with 22 points while Cohen Whitley added 14 and Drew Gaddy 12.

Quon Harper was top scorer for Union Academy (2-10) with 11.

Leading 13-9 after one quarter, the Bulls extended the lead just before halftime. Three-pointers in the final minute by Gaddy and Whitley helped build a nine-point advantage at halftime, 32-23.

The third quarter was all South. The Bulls led by as much as 19 after a Gaddy layup and led 49-32 after the third.

South head coach Sean Whitley said the start of the season says a lot about the team’s experience.

“We’ve had essentially the same lineup for three years now,”  Whitley said. “These kids have had to grow up, undersized as underclassmen playing varsity basketball. I think this year we’re a varsity basketball team. They’ve matured; they trust each other.”

South has one final non-conference match, a home game Jan. 3 with Southwestern Randolph, before opening conference play two days later at Albemarle.

Whitley said he likes his team’s chances during conference play.

“The conference is always athletic, always physical. Union Academy is a lot better than their record.”

He said Albemarle and Mount Pleasant are both physical teams, while North Stanly’s first group “is as good as anybody. I think (the conference) is going to be a battle.”

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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