NEW ALBANY - Myrtle played a suffocating defense for a full 32 minutes and claimed the crown as Union County Champions as the Lady Hawks beat New Albany 62-50. The title was the first for Myrtle since 2012.

“Defense was key, I told our girls that I thought we were in better shape,” Myrtle coach Chris Greer said. “The only thing we didn’t do was keep number 32 (Analisa Cheairs) off the boards.”

Myrtle practically settled the issue early on as they blitzed New Albany for a 22-3 lead after a quarter. The Lady Hawks opened with an 8-0 run and closed the quarter on a 14-0 run.

“We got after them in the first quarter and if we had been in better shape, we would have tried it for four quarters,” Greer said.

The Lady Hawks stretched their lead to 22 points on three different occasions before going to the half up 39-19.

New Albany fought back in the fourth quarter and were able to close the game to within 10 points at 54-44 midway through the period, but Myrtle withstood the comeback attempt and raised the hardware at the close of the contest.

“I thought we did a pretty good job on Ledbetter (Kelsey), but I thought we made some young mistakes,” Greer said. “ At the end of the game, we didn’t do some things, but we played hard. I was proud of them.”

Kinsley Gordon of Myrtle was the game’s leading scorer with 26 points as she hit eight baskets from the field and went 10 of 16 from the free throw stripe. Raykiah Strickland also hit for double figures with 11 points.

Kelsey Ledbetter had 21 points for New Albany and hit four 3-pointers. Analisa Cheairs finished with 13 points.

MYRTLE (10-10)

Kinsley Gordon 26, Raykiah Strickland 11, Olivia Decanter 8, Kalia Nugent 6, Charlize Williams 4, Breanna Smith 4, Lexie Hutcheson 3.

NEW ALBANY (12-9)

Kelsey Ledbetter 21, Analisa Cheairs 13, Ashanti High 6, Dakoyta Lesure 6, Madison McDonald 3, Ella Tyer 2, Amiya Terry 1.

Halftime- Myrtle 39, New Albany 19.

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