Championships help define 2023 for county sports

Here’s a recap of notable Stanly County-related sports stories for 2023:

Albemarle’s girls’ basketball team records its first Yadkin Valley Conference title since the 2018-19 season as the Bulldogs put together a 22-5 (9-1 YVC) season. Fourth-seeded Albemarle loses a home matchup against No. 13 Robbins in the second round of the 1A bracket, an untimely end to a 13-game win streak.

North Stanly’s girls’ basketball team comes up just short of matching Albemarle’s grip on the conference, finishing the year with a 21-5 record (8-2 YVC). East Rutherford knocks the Comets out of the 2A state playoffs in a 88-55 home blowout, just days after North defeated Pine Lake Prep by 16 points in New London.

West Stanly’s softball team achieves its fourth-consecutive NCHSAA 2A state championship with back-to-back wins of 4-2 and 10-0 over the Midway Raiders. After losing their first game of the season, the Colts finish the season with a dominant 31-1 record and 10-0 undefeated record in Rocky River Conference play to win their conference crown.

South Stanly’s softball team notches an undefeated campaign (12-0) in YVC play — locking up the conference title outright — while putting together a strong 22-4 record overall. In the second round of 1A state playoffs, the second-seeded Bulls stumble into an upset home loss to 15th-seeded Uwharrie Charter.

West Stanly’s baseball team makes it to the third round of the the 2A playoff bracket on a ten-game winning streak, falling short to West Stokes in a 6-3 final. Despite the postseason loss, Colts (24-4) still capitalize on their talent with an undefeated record (10-0) in RRC play for the conference title.

North Stanly’s baseball team wins its second-straight YVC trophy with a 10-2 YVC record and 15-11 overall record. Playing at home against No. 23 Shelby in the first round of the 2A bracket, the tenth-seeded Comets are knocked out of the state playoffs in a 1-0 loss, finishing the season on a four-game skid.

Albemarle’s summer collegiate baseball team arrives in Stanly County as the Uwharrie Wampus Cats claw their way to an 18-17 record in their inaugural season at Don Montgomery Park. First-year coach Josh Kent is later announced as the team’s skipper for the upcoming 2024 season, replacing Houston Wright at the head-coaching position.

Albemarle’s football team recovers nicely from an 0-4 start to the season to eventually win the YVC title with a 3-1 conference record following a decisive victory over North Stanly. The sixth-seeded Bulldogs (6-6) later succumb to No. 11 Thomasville Bulldogs in a 41-13 home loss in the second round of the 1A bracket.

North Stanly’s football team (8-4, 3-1 YVC) tallies its first eight-win season since the 2018 campaign where it put together 11 wins. In the second round of the 2A bracket, North gets tripped up by Brevard for only its second loss in seven games as the Blue Devils cruise to a 36-7 home win over the Comets.

West Stanly’s football coach Brett Morton announces on Nov. 14 that he has elected to resign from his position after seven seasons leading the Colts. During his tenure, his teams had a 32-36 overall record, a 12-18 conference record and three playoff appearances; West had a 5-6 record (2-3 RRC) in 2023.

Gray Stone’s boys’ soccer team notches its first-ever NCHSAA 1A boys soccer championship in a 3-1 state title game win over Hobbton. With the victory, the Knights (21-2-2) end their 2023 season on a 21-game unbeaten streak to go along with a YVC championship they secured prior to their state playoff campaign.

West Stanly’s volleyball team wins its fifth-consecutive RRC title as the Colts (23-4, 10-0 RRC) go undefeated in conference play. In the third round of the 2A playoff bracket, the Colts’ luck runs out following 14 straight wins as Southwestern Randolph prevails over West in a 3-1 finish.

North Stanly’s volleyball team locks up its first YVC title since 2020 with an undefeated 10-0 conference record to go with a 27-2 overall record. Riding a massive 25-0 game winning streak, the Comets make all the way to the third round of the 2A bracket but are defeated by McMichael in a 3-0 final.