After earning a third-straight state tournament berth earlier this week against Rustburg, Western coach Darren Maynard said he thought his team had developed a certain toughness.
It showed Friday night.
The Warriors went to Spotswood High and after losing twice to the Blazers in the last two years in the now defunct Conference 29 tournament, this year’s edition beat Spotswood 58-45 to win the Class 3, Region C title.
With a win powered by Tommy Mangrum’s 17 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, the Warriors will get a chance to host a state quarterfinal at a nearby site next week. The Warriors’ win avenged a 62-53 loss in 2016 and a 53-48 defeat in 2017.
In a decisive second quarter, six different Warriors scored but most importantly the defense went into complete lockdown mode, holding Spotswood to just five points. That stretched a two-point lead at the end of the first quarter to 33-20 at halftime and the Blazers simply couldn’t climb out of that hole.
Not with Mangrum scoring 10 of his 17 after the break and Western going 6-for-6 at the line in the fourth quarter.
Garrett Payne and Charlie Weyher each gave the Warriors strong all-around performances. Weyher had five rebounds, five assists, two steals and drew three charges. Payne scored seven points, dished out three assists, grabbed three boards and blocked three shots. Chris McGahren scored 10 points including a trio of 3-pointers and also distributed well, dishing out four assists.
Jed Strickland chipped in five rebounds and two blocks while Daniel Brown had five rebounds.
Kaleb Strawderman finished with 17 points to lead Spotswood, knocking down five 3-pointers. Robert Smith had 12 and Angel Pachero-Ortiz finished with 10.