For the Albemarle boys basketball team, the million-dollar question coming into the season was how they were going to replace all-time leading scorer Austin Katstra, who was the Patriots’ driving force on the interior and No. 2 all-time in scoring, Jake Hahn.
It’s still early, but for now, Chris Cox looks like an early candidate to be undersized Albemarle’s rock in the middle.
Cox, who was seldom-used off the Patriot bench last season, posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds and got eight of those points in a decisive first half in a 67-41 blowout win over crosstown rival Monticello on Friday night to help his team remain undefeated in the Jefferson District opener for both teams.
Cox came in off the bench after Na’il Arnold picked up his second foul in the first quarter and Cox made an immediate impact, sinking a layup and three free throws in a period which saw Albemarle (4-0, 1-0 JD) get off to a 13-4 start and never look back.
“Chris is almost like a starter — he’s our sixth man, he’ll come off the bench and play good minutes,” Albemarle head coach Greg Maynard said. “We’re going to need him because he’s a bigger player. He’s done a solid job in every game, getting rebounds and giving us an offensive spark.”
The Patriots, who were led by Maxx Jarmon’s game-high 16 points, led 30-11 at halftime and forced numerous live-ball turnovers by Monticello (2-2, 0-1), turning those into a ton of fast-break layup by Jarman or Ja’Quan Anderson, who slid over to the point guard spot when Cartier Key was saddled with first-half foul trouble.
The offensive style was in sharp contrast to recent Albemarle teams, which normally prefer to play a more deliberate style of basketball.
“Because of our lack of size, we’re trting to play a lot faster,” Maynard said. “We’ve got pretty good speed on the floor. But sooner or later we’re going to have to execute better in the halfcourt, but right now we’re scoring well in transition.”
Dean Lockley’s 10 points led the Mustangs and Monticello trimmed the deficit to 17 on a three-pointer by Dylan Booth early in the fourth, but Albemarle answered with a trey from Derrick Jones — his only basket of the game — to ignite a 7-0 spurt that quashed any hopes of a Monticello comeback.
Booth added nine for the Mustangs, who are tasked with replacing the offensive production of the graduated Ukari Brooks and Malik Barbour.
Albemarle returns to action Monday when it travels to Powhatan. Monticello travels to face Orange on Tuesday.