STANLY BASKETBALL: North women top West; Albemarle women advance, South falls in OT

Published 11:54 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

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In Friday’s second round state playoff basketball games, three teams hosted games including a historic playoff matchup between two Stanly squads.

2A Women’s Basketball

North Stanly 59, West Stanly 49

One of the accepted axioms of high school sports traditionally has been the difficulty of beating a team three times in one season.

Very often, the three games happen in conference regular-season and tournament play, but occasionally the third game is in the state playoffs.

Not since the 2018-19 season, when Gray Stone and Albemarle played in the 1A playoffs, have two Stanly teams met in the playoffs, until Friday’s second-round game between the host Comets and visiting Colts.

North used its size advantage and a big third-quarter push to outlast the Colts in a 10-point win.

Shayln Bell led North (21-5) with 17 points, including hitting 5-of-7 free throws in the first half. Gia Dunlap added 15 for the Comets.

Junior Greyson Howell led West (14-13) with 17 including five 3-pointers, four of which came in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Scarlett Griffin added 14 for the Colts.

North had the advantage in free throws. The Comets were 10-of-20 at the line while the Colts were 2-of-8.

Leading by eight at halftime, North outscored West 14-0 over the first four minutes of the third. The Comets outscored West 24-4 in the period and led at the end of the quarter 49-23.

In the fourth, West rallied to outscore North 27-10 in the period, hitting six shots from beyond the three-point arc.

North head coach Regan Allen-Perry said she knew West liked to shoot from the outside but did not expect the Colts to be missing some of their post players.

“However, that was a big advantage for us,” Allen-Perry said, adding playing Bell, Dunlap and Lexie Brown with their aggressiveness at the top of a 3-2 defense “just works for us. It was a good team effort all around.”

Bell said North’s forwards “did a good job of getting the ball into the post.”

North advances to the third round and will either travel to No. 2 East Rutherford (26-2) or host No. 15 Forbush (20-8) Tuesday night.

“I think we have a shot to go all the way. They play together; their team chemistry is great. We made it this far, so we might as well go all the way; that’s the goal,” Allen-Perry said.

West graduates two seniors from this year’s team which won the Rocky River Conference regular-season title: Lilly Hartsell and Taylor Whitley.

1A Men’s Basketball

Mountain Island 55, South Stanly 52

It came down to the final seconds of both regulation and overtime, but in the end the visiting Raptors prevailed to advance to the third round of the state playoffs.

Gavyn Miller led South (23-5) with 18 points while Cohen Whitley added 14 for the Bulls.

South was limited to under the team’s scoring average per game by the Raptors (12-13). Through the team’s first 27 games of the season, the Bulls were averaging 62.7 points per game.

The score was close for most of the game. The Bulls trailed 13-12 after one quarter but led at halftime 21-17.

South trailed by four, 40-36, with just over a minute remaining in regulation. Miller dropped in two free throws with 1:06 left.

Twice in the final 1:15 of regulation, South cut four-point leads with free throws from Miller and Drew Gaddy.

With 29.9 seconds left, Mountain Island missed a free-throw, giving South a chance. Miller’s layup with 8.4 seconds left made it a one-point game.

After the Raptors hit a free throw with 6.4 left, South inbounded under its own basket. The ball got to Miller, who drove the length of the court and finished with a left-handed layup as the clock expired, sending the game to overtime tied 44-44.

South led 46-44 in the overtime session, but the Raptors fought back with a 7-0 run to lead 51-46.

Baskets by Ethan Gaddy and Miller narrowed the gap to one in the last minute, but the Raptors hit free throws down the stretch to lead by three.

With 5.2 seconds left, Gaddy had a look at a game-tying 3-pointer from the right wing, but his shot hit the front of the rim as time expired.

“We battled tonight,” South head coach Sean Whitley said. “They were very tough on the ball and we struggled to hit some shots. I thought our defense was pretty good.”

In the final minute of regulation, the coach added, South did not panic and Miller “made a tough basket to force OT. In the end, they made a few plays and it didn’t go our way.”

South finishes the season with 23 wins, one of the highest totals in the program’s history, having won the county title along with the Yadkin Valley Conference regular season and tournament titles.

“It was a great year and our guys have so much to be proud of. We will miss our seniors tremendously. They’ve set the standard our returners will have to carry on. I’m thankful they gave me the opportunity to coach them,” Whitley said.

South graduates Drew Gaddy, Luke Dennis and Keith Murphy from this year’s roster.

1A Women’s Basketball

Albemarle 70, Union Academy 55

For the fourth time this season, the Bulldogs and Cardinals faced each other on the court.

Albemarle had won the previous three matchups, including rallying back from a deficit to win the YVC tournament title last week.

The Bulldogs built an early lead and maintained a nine-point lead or better in the second-half to advance to the third round with the win.

Amari Baldwin led Albemarle (24-3) with 26 points and now has 1,634 career points. Kai Spencer added 22, 13 of which came in the second half. Jasmine Brown reached double figures for Albemarle with 14.

Jaiden Thompson led the 13th-seeded Union Academy Cardinals (20-5) with 20 points and Ranon Suttle added 16. Paisley Boatwright scored 12 for the Cardinals.

The fourth-seeded Bulldogs host the East Wilkes Cardinals (23-4) Tuesday night in the third round of the state playoffs. The No. 5 seeded Cardinals won easily at home versus No. 23 Highland Tech Friday night, 82-38.

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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