For two players, their senior year at the Union County tournament was about redemption.
On the girls’ side, Aspriona Gilbert and Myrtle snapped a three-year losing streak to New Albany to claim its first title since 2008. The UCT has become accustomed to this match-up, and the 58-36 win improved the Lady Hawks’ perfect record to 21-0.
“I feel like I did back when we finally beat them after a while,” Gilbert said. “It feels real good.”
Gilbert scored 24 points, 17 of which came in the first half. Jazmine Spears scored 10 and New Albany’s 12 first half points, and the Lady Hawks outscored New Albany 16-4 in the second quarter.
Spears finished with a game-high 27 points, and Jenna Jordan scored 12 points for Myrtle, followed by 11 by Meshay Cox.
“She got her points,” coach Chris Greer said of Spears. “We didn’t do a good job on her, but I think we got the lead and were content. We didn’t do as well as we wanted to against her, but she’s a good player.”
The win gives Myrtle the season sweep of New Albany, and the focus now shifts to division play, with their next big test coming on Tuesday against H.W. Byers.
“It’s going to be a tough stretch, and we’re going to see what we’re made of in the next couple of weeks,” Greer said.
“I think if we play like we did against Belmont and Center Hill, we can handle what we have coming up,” Gilbert added. “We just need to play as a team and keep doing what we’re doing.”
Daniel Drummond remembers his last time playing in a county tournament at West Union. As an eighth grader, Drummond and the Bulldogs fell to Myrtle, and Saturday’s 88-80 win over Ingomar not only made up for that, but gave New Albany its second straight UCT title.
“I’m happy to leave a winner,” he said. “Last time I was here, I was in the eighth grade, playing Myrtle, so this is redemption.”
The win did not come easy for the Bulldogs, who trailed by four after the first quarter. With Moses Kingsley on the bench with two fouls, New Albany scraped out a one-point advantage at the break large in part to 13 first half points from Drummond.
“Moses is a big part of our offense, so when he went out, I knew I had to step up my game,” Drummond said. “I just want to make sure we win the game. It doesn’t matter how many points I score, if we win, that’s all that matters.”
New Albany came out in the third and commanded the quarter, taking a double-digit lead until Ingomar stormed back making it a two-point game.
Henry Foster tied the game at 62 in the fourth, but the Bulldogs stayed composed, pulling away for the win.
“You have to give a lot of credit to Ingomar. They’ve got several kids that can really shoot the basketball, put it on the floor and finish it under the rim,” coach Brad Gray said. “Those guys played their butts off, and honestly, they outhustled us; outworked us. We were fortunate to win, but you have to give them a lot of credit. They just wouldn’t go away, and we were fortunate to use our size inside to pull away.”
Drummond finished with 27 points, followed by 16 from Jarel Lipsey and 14 points from Eric Chaney.
“You have a one-two punch with those guys, so it’s like pick your poison; guard one or the other,” Gray said of Drummon and Kingsley. “You can double and triple team Moses, and he’s unselfish enough where he’ll pass the ball and find the open man. That open man will be Daniel Drummond, and he’s really stepped it up and is doing a great job of finishing and doing an even better job of being a leader on this team.”
Steven Foster scored 25 points to lead Ingomar, followed by 17 from Henry Foster, 14 from Matt Hale and 12 points from Denzel Siddell.