His coach, Brad Gray, made sure of that 12 months ago.
Gray’s Bulldogs were 15 seconds away from exiting the court with a 21-point loss to Ingomar in the tourney title game when he called a timeout.
“Coach told us we needed to remember this,” said Spears, a senior. “I don’t know what happened last year. We didn’t come out and make plays.
“I know we’re going to come out and be focused this year.”
New Albany (16-2) returned to the championship game, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. today, on the strength of Friday’s 80-49 victory against East Union in the semifinals.
Myrtle, coached by Jonathan Ashley, defeated Ingomar – coached by his father, Norris Ashley – 69-66 in the other boys semifinal.
New Albany was certainly focused early, jumping out to a 12-0 lead behind six points from Tadarious Coburn, who scored 18 of his game-high 24 points in the first half.
East Union trailed 26-16 early in the second quarter when the Bulldogs went on a 14-2 run to race ahead 40-18.
“Our depth hurt them,” Gray said of the Urchins. “They shot the ball well and they play hard as long as they can.”
For the winners, 6-9 Moses Kingsley scored 14 points and Spears added 10. Trey Barkley and Chris Tables scored 11 each for East Union (7-11).
Gray expects his Bulldogs will have their hands full tonight against the homestanding Hawks.
“It’s going to be a dogfight,” he said. “These kids play together. Any time you’re playing a Union County team it’s going to be tough.”
Later Friday, Robert Montgomery scored 25 points, including 8 of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter, to seal the win for Myrtle (12-10).
Ingomar (7-10) was led by Wesley Jumper, who scored a game-high 27 points. His 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining cut Myrtle’s lead to 68-66.
(G) New Albany 66, Ingomar 46
In the girls championship game, scheduled for 6 p.m., host Myrtle (17-4) battles New Albany (16-2), the state’s top-ranked team and a club that beat the 49-48 last week.
The Lady Bulldogs are 2-0 against Myrtle this season. Myrtle reached the title game with Thursday’s 71-32 win against West Union.
“Last week was a great game,” Myrtle girls coach Chris Greer said. “I told John Stroud (New Albany’s coach) that I hope both teams play their best ... and I hope we’re playing in front of a sold-out crowd.”
Porche White scored 15 points and Kebrina Lucas added 13 for New Albany in its win over Ingomar. Shelly Grisham’s 18 paced the Lady Falcons.