Cartier Key poured in 19 points and J’Quan Anderson added 13 as visiting Albemarle built a big third-quarter lead and held off a late charge from Western Albemarle to escape Crozet with a 69-61 victory in a foul-riddled clash.
The Patriots’ win handed the Warriors their first loss in a game where five different players fouled out between the teams. Albemarle stayed undefeated with the win.
Albemarle led by as many as 21 early in the fourth before the Warriors began to whittle away at the lead. After Albemarle’s Na’il Arnold picked up his fifth foul, the Warriors’ offense woke up. A pair of 7-0 spurts spearheaded by junior point guard Caleb Perez got Western in striking distance, then Perez pair of free throws by cut the lead all the way down to two with just over two minutes remaining.
“Twenty point leads can go in a hurry in high school basketball,” Greg Maynard said. “We got after them defensively, we were making open shots, and things were going great. We were passive against the halfcourt zone trapping defense they switched to.”
However, the Warriors had dug themselves just too big of a hole. With Albemarle clinging to a three-point lead and 1:47 on the clock, Western’s Garrett Payne intercepted an Albemarle pass in the backcourt and appeared to be headed for a dunk, but was whistled for a travel, ultimately leading to a pair of technical fouls. Anderson made three of the ensuing four free throws and Western never truly threatened again.
Albemarle did leave a lot of points on the table at the free throw line as Western climbed back into the game. The Patriots missed eight foul shots in the final quarter, but Anderson went 5-for-7 from the stripe and Maxx Jarmon a perfect 4-for-4 in the final period to keep the margin just large enough.
“Give Western credit,” Maynard said. “We ended up in a tight ball game tonight.”
The Albemarle offensive output led by its backcourt is in sharp contrast to recent years, including last season when the Patriots were led by Austin Katstra and Jake Hahn in the post.
“We don’t worry about where the points come from,” Maynard said. “All five starters could be our leading scorer any given night. Cartier was on tonight and I’m really glad he was.”
Western scored the first five points of the game before Albemarle’s offense woke up. Anderson swished a three at the first-quarter buzzer to give Albemarle its first lead of the game at 14-11, a lead the Patriots methodically extended through the next two periods. Key had 13 of his 19 in the second quarter to help the Patriots take a 33-19 lead at halftime, including a four-point play right in front of a Western student section.
“I knew [Western] was gonna pack it in so I just had to look for my shot,” Key said. “That’s what I did and it fell.”
Jed Strickland led the Warriors with 13 points before fouling out. Perez added 11 and Teo Rampini 10 for Western. Albemarle’s defense frustrated Western’s Chris McGahren who finished with just five points before McGahren also fouled out. In addition to Arnold, Key and Chris Cox also fouled out for the Patriots in a physical game that has become emblematic of each matchup between these two teams.
Western has a quick turnaround as it hosts Powhatan on Saturday at 6:30. Albemarle will host Louisa next Tuesday.