By Ben Sheridan / Scrimmageplaycva.com contributor
It was a battle between two one-loss teams Friday night with Western Albemarle’s boys basketball team tangling with Orange.
Western managed to outlast the Hornets 59-48, pushing their season to 9-1 on the year with an explosive 21-point, seven-rebound effort from Tommy Mangrum leading the way.
In the first quarter, the Warriors were able to jump out to an early lead thanks to some stifling defense. But while Western was executing on that end of the floor, the Hornets had their own successes, creating turnovers that led to some easy buckets for them. The Warriors eventually settled into their offense, led by Mangrum with six points in the frame, and took a 15-10 lead to the second.
Western extended its lead in the second as they were still able to find their groove offensively. They also took advantage of their chances at the foul line, shooting 7-for-9 from the charity stripe in the quarter. The defensive pressure didn’t let up either, and the Warriors found themselves with a nine-point halftime lead.
In the third, things changed quickly. The Hornets came out strong, forcing more turnovers and turning them into easy points, while also getting the Warriors out of their offense by playing tough defense. Sihle Mthethwa led the Orange attack, who had eight of his 15 points in the quarter. This surge brought the Hornets back in the game as they trailed 43-41 going into the final quarter. J.J. Macdonald chipped in nine points and eight rebounds on the day while Jireek Washington had six points and six steals.
The Warriors knew that they needed to adjust quickly for the fourth quarter.
“I thought we had a poor third quarter and they had a really good third quarter,” said Western coach Darren Maynard. “They came out with more energy than we did, they got really super aggressive on us and we didn’t handle it real well in the third quarter.”
The Hornets didn’t let up, and they eventually took a lead in the fourth. The Warriors needed someone to step up and make plays. They found their answer in Mangrum, who had 10 points in the fourth that allowed Western to pull away.
“He’s pretty clutch, he’s been through all these wars for four years now, so we have a lot of confidence in him,” Maynard said. “We’ll flip him around in different spots with different ways to get him the ball.”
Mangrum certainly came through in the clutch, but the Warriors as a team came through from the foul line to ice the game, as they shot 10-for-13 from the line in the quarter.
Andrew Shifflett added 13 points and eight rebounds in a strong performance for the Warriors while Henry Sullivan had eight points and seven boards.
The Warriors gain a key district win, and will prepare for critical matchups with Charlottesville and Louisa next week. Orange will take on Louisa Tuesday on the road in a rivalry clash.