In a normal season, archrivals Albemarle and Western Albemarle meet twice. But ideally not before New Year’s Eve.
The teams met once just a couple of short weeks ago, a seven-point Albemarle win spurred by a fourth quarter surge. They met for the second time in the Daily Progress Holiday Hoops Classic’s semifinals, colliding this time on Albemarle’s home court, on Wednesday night in the semifinals.
While the site was different, the result remained the same as the Patriots used a big second half to break open a close game in a 67-56 victory that featured 27 points from senior center Austin Katstra.
The win also kept Albemarle perfect on the season, improving its record to 10-0.
“It probably helped them more than it helped us that we won that first game,” Greg Maynard said. “I know that made them want it more.”
Katstra opened the second half with a three-pointer, the Patriots’ first of the game, and scored 10 in the period as AHS stretched what was a 25-24 halftime lead into a 45-36 margin after three. Maxx Jarmon nailed a three at the buzzer from the left corner with defenders all over him, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
After an old-fashioned three-point play by Ryan Ingram closed the gap to 47-41 early in the fourth for the Warriors (6-3), the Patriots got consecutive baskets from Jake Hahn, Cartier Key and Katstra to take control and Western never truly threatened again.
The Patriots led 16-10 after one, thanks in large part to 10 points from Katstra, but the star big man was held scoreless in the second quarter as Western pulled even. Two free throws by Ingram with 2:33 to go tied the game for the first time since the opening tip, forcing Albemarle to re-insert Katstra despite his two fouls.
“You just have to go out there and play controlled,” said Katstra, who also grabbed nine rebounds in the victory. “You can’t think about the fact that you’re in foul trouble. Coach Maynard trusted me to go back out there and told me to just play my game.”
Ingram poured in 24 points to lead the Warriors while Chris McGahren added 10, but no other Warriors scored in double figures and Western struggled to get into an offensive rhythm all night. They turned the ball over 14 times and went just 4-of-19 from beyond the arc. Free-throw shooting kept them in it–the Warriors went 29-35 from the line in what was a physical game.
“I thought Western’s guys played extremely well,” Greg Maynard said. “I thought mine did too. We just executed a little better in the second half, got some good shots and made them count. I just told them to stay the course.”
Albemarle made just four threes in 15 attempts and also had 14 turnovers. They were 12-for-18 from the charity stripe.
The Patriots will meet West Potomac game Thursday night at 8:15 at Monticello High School in the title game. Western will take on STAB in the third-place game.