Albemarle women pull away late, top North Stanly

Published 10:01 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2024

A battle between women’s basketball teams, each with an active 1,000-point career scorer in their starting lineups, nearly filled the stands at Pfeiffer’s Merner Gym Tuesday night. Amari Baldwin and the Albemarle Bulldogs played as the home team, taking on Shalyn Bell and the North Stanly Comets.

The Bulldogs pulled away in the second half and improved on the team’s lead in the Yadkin Valley Conference standings with a 61-42 win.

Baldwin led the Bulldogs (14-1, 5-0 YVC) with 25 points, while Jasmine Brown added 10, all in the first half. Jordyn Crump hit a pair of threes, finishing with seven.

Bell paced the Comets (13-1, 2-2) with 18 points, 14 coming in the first half. Lexie Brown added eight for North, all coming in the first.

In the first quarter, free throws by Brown, Kai Spencer and Bianca Robinson and a Robinson bucket helped the Bulldogs build a 13-6 lead. A 3-pointer from Brown got the Comets back going, then three points from Gia Dunlap pulled the Comets to within two late in the period.

Trailing by one midway through the second, Brown’s bucket spurred a 7-0 run with back-to-back buckets from Baldwin. The Bulldogs led by as much as 10 in the period, and led 35-29 at halftime.

Baldwin picked up her third foul late in the second quarter but stayed in the lineup, saying she had to be more disciplined on defense as the game went into the second half.

“I had to stay in the (passing lanes) more than worry about the ball handler,” Baldwin said.

Albemarle pulled away to a double digit lead in the third and led by 16 after three quarters, 50-34. A three-minute scoring drought for the Comets led to an 8-0 Bulldogs run. Brown’s bucket with 2:32 left in the period capped off the run.

Albemarle maintained its lead for the rest of the game to earn the team’s 11th straight win.

Baldwin credited Brown, Spencer and Crump for their play, saying they stepped up in the first half “when they saw I wasn’t doing as well. They came in and really helped.”

Albemarle head coach Eric Davis talked about his team’s depth.

“I think we have seen tonight what true depth is. It’s one thing to say that you’re talented and young, and lengthy at the bench level, but it’s another to play nine or 10 players every game,” he said.

Davis said his team did a good job of staying within themselves “and trusting in our process in everything we did.”

He said stayed with Baldwin in foul trouble  because of how disciplined she is as a player. “It’s not like her aggressiveness changes.”

Davis also credited Crump and Dariana Ellis for their play in the win, saying both played “a heck of a game.”

Both teams will face each other at Pfeiffer Feb. 13, with the Comets as the home team.

Davis said playing the games in Merner Gym creates “a great environment,” recalling the first season he coached Albemarle, when both of the conference finals were Albemarle and North Stanly.

“It’s wonderful. I’m glad we’re still getting the opportunity to play at Pfeiffer,” Davis said.

With the win Albemarle moves 1.5 games ahead of Union Academy in the conference standings. Albemarle will host No. 4 ranked Bishop McGuinness in a non-conference game Thursday.

North Stanly returns to the court Thursday at West Stanly in a non-conference matchup.

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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