ALBEMARLE — Facing a four-point halftime deficit to the visiting North Rowan Cavaliers, the Albemarle Bulldogs boys’ basketball team looked to be on the right track to make Monday’s nonconference game competitive the rest of the way.
The Bulldogs (0-3, 0-0 Yadkin Valley) had fought back after surrendering 11 unanswered points to start the game and outscored the Cavaliers in the second quarter. North Rowan, however, outscored Albemarle by five in the third quarter and 13 in the fourth en route to a 88-66 victory.
“When we got to the third quarter, we didn’t close it out,” first-year Albemarle coach Chauncey Bruton said. “All season, we’ve been going through the struggles of taking bad shots and turning over the ball at the wrong time. Coming out of that first half we were flat, and it became a snowball effect. My guys aren’t used to being in that position of pulling themselves out, and we’re learning right now how to dig ourselves out of those holes.”
Eleven different Cavaliers scored in the game and five players reached double-digit point totals, led by sophomore Amir Alexander’s team-high 17 points.
While seven Bulldogs reached the scoring column in the matchup, three players accounted for 46 of their 66 points.
The Bulldogs were led by their 6-foot-7 senior center Omare Price, who scored a game-high 20. Junior Ty Rankin added 14 points for Albemarle, while senior Jabari Brooks had 12 points.
Albemarle saw several contested shots in the paint fall short in a slash-and-drive offensive strategy that the team employed throughout the night.
“I don’t really have a lot of shooters and that’s been one of our biggest struggles, but we’re working on that,” Bruton said. “Our game is predicated off of getting to the basket and finishing at the rim. When we don’t get the putbacks, we struggle down the stretch.”
Despite the loss, Bruton said he was encouraged to see how his roster fought back into the game — even briefly leading the Cavaliers — after starting the game down 11-0.
“It shows me the potential of the team, where our heart is and what kind of fight we have.”
Albemarle will host the West Stanly Colts (2-0, 0-0 Rocky River) on Friday night in hopes of getting its first win of the year. It will be the second meeting between the two teams this season. On Nov. 23, the Colts came away with a 79-71 home win over the Bulldogs in what was both schools’ 2021-22 schedule-opener.