UNION COUNTY TOURNAMENT: Bulldogs outslug Hawks

INGOMAR – Myrtle High boys basketball coach Jonathan Ashley compared Friday night’s Union County Tournament game against New Albany to a football game.
There were bodies flying everywhere and a lot of contact as players ran up and down the floor of the Ingomar High gymnasium.
Unfortunately for Ashley’s team, last year’s UC Tournament champion, it came up on the short end of Friday’s semifinal game. New Albany’s depth and athleticism proved to be the difference, as the Daily Journal’s fourth-ranked large school beat the Journal’s fourth-ranked small school 84-78.
“There wasn’t a lot of coaching going on,” said Ashley, whose team dropped to 16-4 on the year. “It was going to be kids having to step up and make plays.
“And mine gave so much effort, and if they hadn’t made plays, we wouldn’t have been in the ballgame to start with.”
Myrtle senior David Wilson led all scorers with 27 points, while Malcolm Spears had 26 to lead the Bulldogs (12-6).
In the fourth quarter, it took Kareem Brown’s 11 points (14 for the game) and Spears’ nine in the quarter to stave off the Hawks.
“They’re a very good fundamental basketball team,” New Albany coach Brad Gray said of his Friday night opponent. “They’re scrappy and they never quit. It’s a good quality win.”
With the win, the Bulldogs advanced to tonight’s championship game against Ingomar at 7:30. The Falcons upset the Bulldogs in last year’s Union County Tournament semifinal.
“We put last year behind us,” Gray said. “We’re looking at the present and we’re looking ahead. That’s it.”
The physicality of Friday’s game really took form in the second half. The two teams combined for 87 points in the first half, with New Albany holding a 45-42 advantage at the intermission.
Myrtle’s last lead of the game (31-30) came on an old-fashioned 3-point play by Jimel Judon with 4:27 to play in the first half. Judon scored nine of his 15 points in the second quarter.
Other stars in the first half were New Albany’s Spears (17 points in the half) and Devonte Berry (14).
Even though the teams combined for 85 points in the second half, the two teams would combine for just 30 points in the third quarter and New Albany would score 14 of its 25 fourth-quarter points from the free-throw line.
“I think our athleticism and our depth really helps us,” Gray said. “We can play 10 or 12 kids, and that helps us out a lot.
“It give us fresh legs in the fourth quarter.”
Berry finished with 17 points and Tadarious Coburn had 16 for the winners.
(B) Ingomar 75, East Union 56
The Falcons (17-2) returned to the championship game with big man Zack Carnell leading the way (game-high 18 points).
Steven Foster added 16 and Clay Kidd and Matt Purvis had 13 apiece.
Gareth Pannell tied for a game-high in points with 18 to pace East Union (8-9).
(G) New Albany 69, East Union 37
Not even a mouse falling from the ceiling of the Ingomar gymnasium could distract the Lady Bulldogs enough to lose their first game of the season.
With a mouse falling from the ceiling onto the court with a 1:05 left in the first half, the Lady Bulldogs (17-0) would finish strong after the brief stoppage of play to dismantle their Union County foe and advance to tonight’s championship game against Myrtle at 6.
Kebrina Lucas and Jazmine Spears each had 13 points, while teammate Mica Washington added 12.
Tosha Graham had 15 and Sunnie Knighton 11 for East Union (8-9).

John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal