By Bryan Rothamel / FlucoBlog.com
Fluvanna turned back to a zone defense — a tactic that worked earlier in the year to control Monticello in a win — to stop Western Albemarle, beating the Warriors 49-43 Tuesday night. The win puts Fluvanna right back in the Jefferson District title race.
“You’ve got to play great defense and make free throws. If you do that, you got a chance to win,” said Fluvanna coach Munro Rateau.
After a slow first half, Western held a 24-19 lead with 5:52 left in the third quarter. Fluvanna then went to a 2-3 zone that created issues for the Warriors. The inside advantage WAHS leans on was mitigated by a packed in zone. From there, the Flucos’ length on the perimeter kept Western’s shooters at bay.
“We didn’t handle the 2-3. I would’ve never bet you anything that a 2-3 would bother us this year, but it has,” said WAHS head coach Darren Maynard. “We had some people that were reluctant to shoot the ball that we really count on to shoot the ball. I’m not really sure what caused that.”
Fluvanna narrowed the five-point gap with a Brad Bullock basket right after the break. Vinny Agee followed that with a shot from the top of the key off a Jalen Harrison handoff. The shot pulled it to 24-23 WAHS.
Agee’s next shot was an errant 3-pointer but he was fouled on the follow through. He made all three free throws to get Fluvanna a lead and it would never relinquish it.
“I don’t know what happened but we just turned it up in the second half — started rebounding and pushing the ball down the court,” said Harrison.
Fluvanna’s 2-3 zone created too many issues for WAHS to overcome. The score also forced Western Albemarle into a more aggressive defense that allowed Fluvanna to speed the game up.
“We really kept the ball going,” said Agee. “We didn’t settle for pass and shoot. We worked the ball around for the better shot instead of [on] first pass.”
Agee led Fluvanna with 14 points and six rebounds. Harrison had 10 points, three assists and two rebounds. Dashon Tibbs had nine rebounds while Dorian Butler finished with four assists.
“Our backs were against the wall and we rose to the occasion. That’s what I’m really proud of,” Rateau said.
Chase Stokes paced Western with 13 points and six rebounds. Sam Chisholm had 13 points and five rebounds. Jeremy Baroch has 11 rebounds with his six points.
The Fluvanna victory muddles an already wild Jefferson District title picture. Monticello, who has the toughest schedule left of any of the top three teams, still has just a single loss in JD play, the early season defeat at the hands of the Flucos. The Warriors’ matchup with Monticello Friday in Crozet looms large for the title hopes of all three of the district’s top teams. Monticello, Western and Fluvanna all still have a legitimate shot at a championship.