Three games, three battles. The Albemarle boys followed up their nail-biters with Western Albemarle and Louisa County with another tense game. After trailing most of the first and all of the second and third, the Patriots rallied behind J’quan Anderson and Derrick Jones to pull off a 59-54 victory.
“When I looked at our schedule a long time ago I saw those three games right at the end with Western at home, at Louisa and at Charlottesville and just knew that that was going to be a really, really tough three game stretch,” said Albemarle coach Greg Maynard. “We almost got all three — we’re a 3-pointer at the end short of the Louisa game from going 3-0 but going two-for-three is great. And tonight, we really had to gut it out again.”
Albemarle had just one field in the fourth quarter, a 3-pointer from Jones that gave them a 45-44 lead with 6:36 to play. From there it was strictly a free throw shooting show as the Patriots went to the line 21 times and coming away with 16 of their 19 fourth quarter points.
“We were down at halftime but came and just played our game and do what we had to do,” Anderson said. “Coach told us to keep our heads up but to keep fighting hard, attacking and so we did.”
A three pointer from Jibron Barnett allowed Charlottesville to get the deficit to 54-53 with 1:36 to play but with the Patriots dialed in at the foul line, the Black Knights weren’t able to get any closer than that.
“They hit too many free throws and then we missed too many on our end going 8-for-18 and that was big,” said Charlottesville coach Mitch Minor. “But when we had three of our guys foul out at the end we just stalled out. But we played hard, we were up or in it the whole game. We missed some opportunities but I’m proud of the overall effort.”
Charlottesville got a spirited effort from Immanuel Wells and Sam Neale on both ends of the floor. The duo paced the Black Knights early to a 17-13 lead in the first and after an and-1 from Daimon Washington, Charlottesville held a 29-20 lead with 2:13 left in the second quarter.
That’s where Jones came in and changed things. With the Patriots missing Cartier Key to illness, Jones stepped in late in the second and immediately buried back-to-back three’s to make it 29-26.
“Coach actually set up those plays for us,” Jones said. “He put me in that position to make those shots and I just knocked them down.”
The Patriots went into the third quarter down 32-26 and Neale gave the Black Knights a 41-32 lead with 3:07 left in the third. From there Anderson and Na’il Arnold made their presence felt as they attacked the basket and began to put Charlottesville in foul trouble. Albemarle cut things to 44-40 late in the third before Jones came up big again with his go-ahead three early in the fourth.
“The plan was just to keep attacking the basket or kick out to Derrick because he kept getting open,” Anderson said. “They can’t hold him. He’s nice. He’s only a sophomore but he’s got two more years after this to keep developing and get better each day.”
For Albemarle, Anderson led all players with his 16 points. Jones finished with 15 points of his own.
“He really stepped up and those two got us to within range,” Maynard said. “We needed somebody to step up and that’s what we said in practice. We didn’t know who it was going to be but it had to be the next man up. Someone has to do the job to cover for Cartier. Good teams do that and we found an answer tonight.”
Arnold gave the Patriots three players in double figures with 13 points.
Wells had a team high 14 points for Charlottesville while Neale added 13. Isaiah Washington had eight points.
Charlottesville will host Powhatan while Albemarle will do the same with Fluvanna County with both on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.