Albemarle women claim YVC title, host first-round playoff game

Published 2:31 pm Monday, February 26, 2024

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The Albemarle women’s basketball team found itself Friday in an uncommon position for much of the team’s season: trailing at halftime.

Having lost just three times this season, the Bulldogs trailed Union Academy by eight at halftime of the Yadkin Valley Conference tournament finals, hosted by Mount Pleasant.

The Bulldogs rallied in the third and pulled away in the final three minutes of the game to win the tournament title, 65-57.

Amari Baldwin had the touch from the outside for Albemarle (22-3), knocking down six 3-pointers and finishing with 30 points. The junior point guard, who was named the YVC Player of the Year, now has 1,584 career points. She is 70 points behind Kyleigh McLendon on the school’s all-time women’s basketball career points list.

Jasmine Brown had a big game for the Bulldogs in the post with 16 points and 10 rebounds, scoring nine in a third-quarter rally for Albemarle. The Bulldogs played without junior forward and starter Bianca Robinson. Robinson missed the game because of a sprained ankle.

Jaiden Thompson led Union Academy (19-4) with 22 points while Paisley Boatright added 16 for the Cardinals.

With the game tied in the second quarter, Thompson scored seven straight for the Cardinals, who led by as much as 10 in the period.

Albemarle outscored Union Academy 27-15 in the third and led 52-48 heading into the fourth.

The two teams battled back and forth, but a Jordyn Crump 3-pointer with 3:31 left put Albemarle up for good. The Bulldogs ended the game with a 7-0 run.

“We all started slow in the first half, but we knew we wanted to win the championship,” Brown said. “To win it all, we all had to step up. I had to be the one to step up with Amari.”

Playing without Robinson in the lineup, Brown said she knew she had to step up her game.

“Bianca and I play very well together. She is like my other half, so without her, it was very hard, but I knew I had to step it up,” Brown said.

“We did a good job matching the physicality and were able to get control of the glass,” Albemarle head coach Eric Davis said.

Davis credited Brown and starters Kai Spencer and Riley Davis.

“Without those three, we aren’t able to control the gaps.”

The coach said sophomore Karrington Baldwin “created five or six extra possessions for us. It was really a total team effort.”

Davis said winning the conference tournament title “does not have a bearing” in terms of the state playoffs this week, but added “you want to play well and get momentum going in.”

Albemarle is the No. 4 seed in the 1A Western Region and hosts No. 29 Mountain Island Charter (8-14) Tuesday night in the first round of the state playoffs.

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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