Falcons, Lady Bulldogs win UCT championships

Playing three games in as many nights, fourth seeded Ingomar prevailed on Saturday to win the 2013 Union County Tournament championship after a 68-59 win over New Albany.

Having already defeated West Union and top seeded East Union to make it to the finals, Ingomar played the Bulldogs close in the first half, trailing by five at the break. The Falcons scored the first seven points of the third quarter, taking the lead on a basket by Sam Cobb. Trading the lead throughout the frame and tied in the final seconds, an off balanced three-pointer by Henry Foster gave the Falcons a 47-44 lead, as well as the momentum heading into the fourth quarter.

Ingomar controlled the final quarter, hitting 11-of-15 free throws to pull away for the win.

“We played well on Thursday night, and last night, I thought we had a lack of focus at times,” Ingomar coach Jonathan Ashley said. “Tonight at the half, down five, I told them that we’ve played them in 10 quarters this year, and there’s not a lot of difference between us, but the maroon team has made the big plays every time. I challenged them, and then we opened the third quarter scoring the first points, and that was on good half court defense, touching the ball and finishing it in transition when we had the opportunity to.”

Ashley credited his senior leaders, Henry Foster and Devonte Williamson, for their effort throughout the tournament, averaging 29 and 11 points per game during the tournament.

“They’ve been good senior leaders all year,” Ashley said. “They’ve stepped forward for us all year, and at South Pontotoc earlier this season, Devonte told me that he has never won a tournament, and they’ve wanted to make it to the finals and win one. It feels good for them, I know.”

The county title is the first for Ingomar since the school won on its home floor in 2010. Ingomar made it to the title game in 2012, falling to New Albany, 88-80. This year’s win also snaps the Bulldogs’ two-year win streak as tournament champions.

 “I knew, looking at what I had when I came here, and based on what was returning for the other schools, that we could have a chance to do this, if we play well,” Ashley said. “It wasn’t easy, and I’m proud of the way they played.”

Lady Bulldogs hold on to defeat West Union

The final three minutes of the game were played without Lady Bulldog star Jazmine Spears, but New Albany did not skip a beat, taking its fourth county championship in five years.

“We didn’t play very sharp tonight,” New Albany coach John Stroud said. “Anytime you play a county school, they’re going to play tougher against you. West Union played very well, and they’re a scrappy group. We played a little tight tonight and fought through some foul trouble.”

The foul trouble primarily affected Spears, who left the game at the 3:18 mark in the fourth. The Lady Bulldogs had a double-digit lead at that point, but the Lady Eagles made one final push before eventually falling, 65-52.

The Lady Bulldogs led throughout, but West Union fought to within three at the half after Julianna Garner hit a three-pointer, making it 29-26.

Spears scored 11 points in the third, giving the Lady Bulldogs a double-digit lead, but sat out toward the end of the frame after picking up her fourth foul. The Lady Eagles fought to within eight points in the fourth, but New Albany put away the game on the free throw line.

Spears led all scorers with 33 points, while Garner led West Union with 24 points. Hannah McQuary added 12 points for the Lady Eagles.

“She missed a lot of shots, but she made some big ones, but I’m glad we were able to finish it out without her on the court for the final four minutes,” Stroud said of Spears. “That’s big for us, because we never play without her on the floor, so we beat a good team with her on the bench.”

This year marked the eighth-straight appearance for New Albany in the girls’ championship game. This is also the fourth championship in five years, with Myrtle holding the one win over the Lady Bulldogs last season.

Saturday's box scores

New Albany 65 West Union 52 (girls)

New Albany  13  16  18  18    65

West Union   8   18   10  16    52

Leading Scorers: (NA) Jazmine Spears 33; (WU) Julianna Garner 24, Hannah McQuary 12

Ingomar 68 New Albany 59 (boys)

Ingomar       15  8   21  24    68

New Albany  17  11  16  13    59

Leading Scorers: (I) Henry Foster 31; (NA) Jarel Lipsey 15, Eric Chaney 14, William Harding 11