Albemarle girls stumble in fourth round of state playoffs

The Bulldogs suffered a 19-point road loss to Mountain Heritage

Photo by Seth Mabry (Stanly County Journal)

BURNSVILLE — The Albemarle girls’ basketball team met its match last Friday as it was knocked out of the NCHSAA 1A state playoffs in a fourth-round matchup at Mountain Heritage in Burnsville, NC.

Facing the top-seeded Cougars (28-2, 14-0 Western Highlands) in a West Region Elite 8 matchup, the fourth-seeded Bulldogs (25-4, 12-0 Yadkin Valley) saw their postseason run come to a close in a 60-41 road loss, snapping their eight-game win streak and extending their opponent’s streak to 24 games.

The Bulldogs were the only Stanly County basketball team — boys or girls — still alive in their respective playoff bracket.

It was a sluggish shooting night for Albemarle throughout the majority of the game, trailing 19-8 after one quarter and 31-17 after the first half as the Bulldogs went on to finish with their lowest scoring output of the season.

Star point guard Amari Baldin had a team-high 24 points for Albemarle while Mountain Heritage’s Ava Webb notched a team-best 19 points.

“Tough loss tonight in a tough environment but extremely proud of this team and everything they have accomplished,” Albemarle coach Eric Davis said in a post-game social media post. “We as a community should be very proud of this group on and off the floor. They are truly a great group who have put in the work and earned everything they have received.”

Earlier in the state playoffs, the Bulldogs (24-3, 12-0 Yadkin Valley) had previously bested the No. 29 Mountain Island Charter Raptors (8-15, 5-9 Catawba Shores) in a 73-19 home finish before getting a 15-point road win over No. 13 Union Academy (20-5, 9-3 Yadkin Valley) in the second round.

In their third-round matchup, the Bulldogs defeated No. 5 East Wilkes Cardinals (23-4, 13-0 Northwest) 57-42.

Although Albemarle was only two wins away from making it to the 1A state title game, the team still finished with the most victories it had accumulated in a season since its 26-3 record during the 2018-19 campaign.

Adding three extra wins to their record in each of the past two seasons, the Bulldogs can also hang their hat on winning back-to-back Yadkin Valley Conference regular-season and tournament titles.

Albemarle defeated Union Academy 65-57 on Feb. 23 to notch the 2023-24 YVC Tournament championship trophy.

On Sunday, the North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association announced its 2023-2024 All-District Teams. Representing District 8, Baldwin was named a first-team member while junior center Jasmine Brown was named to the third-team roster.

Baldwin currently stands in second place in Albemarle’s all-time scoring list. Late last month, the junior was announced as the 2023-24 Yadkin Valley Conference Player of the Year as Brown and junior forward Bianca Robinson were also added to the All-Conference list.

With three of Albemarle’s top four leading scorers returning next year for their senior season, the Bulldogs are primed to, once again, make a run in the state playoffs as they also aim to win their third-consecutive YVC title.