Albemarle girls hold off Monticello in defensive battle


The Albemarle girls basketball team got off to a surging start, but couldn’t quite pull away in the second quarter. Then after a tough back-and-forth in the third quarter, the Patriots looked poise to pull away again, but the Mustangs just wouldn’t go away. Call it a bit of a struggle, but in the end, Albemarle never trailed and the closest Mustangs ever got was within six points of the lead. As such the Patriots held firm for a 45-35 road win.


“We’ve been on the road so long and it kind of takes a toll on you so anytime you pick up a win there you’re happy,” said Albemarle coach Rachel Proudfoot. “I’m proud of the upperclass athletes for stepping up and I feel like they made the difference in the win. We keep getting out in front but allowing teams to come back. We have to work on maintaining our tempo. It would be nice to put away teams early but Monticello did a good job, they were bigger than us and found a way to make that work for them.”


With an 11-0 start to the game, Albemarle was clicking on all cylinders, creating turnovers and finishing at the basket. But from the end of the first going into the second the Mustangs salvaged together a 6-2 to keep things competitive and put the game at 13-6.


There was little momentum won or lost for both sides from there until the end of the third quarter. With Mariah Brown pacing the Mustangs and the Patriots being led by Kayla Mann who scored all 10 of her points during that time frame, Albemarle took a 21-14 lead at the break and a 28-19 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.


“We were finding open people and making sure that those people got their shots off,” Mann said. “We also made sure to be in rebounding position to finish up any misses. We just tried to stay strong there.”


In the final frame, behind the hustle of its defense creating turnovers, Albemarle went up 39-25 midway through as Anne Ridenhour got hot from beyond the arc and Aiyanah Tyler-Cooper establisher her presence in the paint.


“Our MO all season has been getting the stops on the defensive end and translating that into points on the offensive end,” Ridenhour said. “We threw a couple of new defenses at them to keep them on their toes. That allowed us to get stops, get steals and execute for the win.”


The Mustangs, who were without point guard Josie Mallory, stuck with it though, particularly in the last four minutes. With Kirstena Lilley knocking down free throws and Rachel Mathews knocking down a pair of 3-pointers, Monticello was able to make it a 41-35 game and try and foul its way back into the contest with just under two minutes to go.


“Obviously it wasn’t the result we wanted on the scoreboard but there were so many good things to come out of this game,” said Monticello coach Erica Terrell. “I’m totally proud of the girls for never quitting. They focused on giving the best effort they could.”


While the Patriots went 2-for-8 from the free throw line in the fourth, the Mustangs weren’t able to score in the final ninety seconds, allowing Albemarle to wrap up the win with four of the game’s final points to make it more comfortable 45-35 victory.


Ridenhour led the Patriots with 13 points fueled by a trio of 3-pointers. Tyler-Cooper added 11 points and Mann finished with ten to give Albemarle three players in double figures.


For Monticello, Brown and Dasha Kinlaw led the way with nine points. Lilley finished with seven. Matthews chipped in six with a pair of three’s.


Monticello will host Charlottesville on Friday at 6 p.m. Albemarle’s contest with Fluvanna on Saturday has been postponed and the Patriots will stay on the road as they head to Orange County on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.