Albemarle just needed shots to fall. They needed Derrick Jones.
Deadlocked in a defensive struggle at halftime with Western Albemarle and battling foul trouble, the Patriots unleashed a 12-0 run to start sparked by Jones hitting two 3-pointers and a long two in the third quarter to pull away from the Warriors and roll to a 57-37 win over Western.
“We just had to pick up the tempo on offense and collapse on defense when good players like Tommy Mangrum are down on the block,” Jones said. “Once we collapsed we kind of pushed the pace and we were able to run the break better.”
Jones’ struck first with a 3-pointer right out of the gate to put Albemarle up 25-22, then Myles Ward, who finished with seven rebounds and eight points despite battling foul trouble, finished on a fastbreak to make it 27-22. Jones connected on a long two and Justin Murkey scored to make it 31-22, then Jones, who finished with 19 points, capped the run with a 3-pointer to make it 34-22.
“I just thought once the shots started falling if we continued to play defense like that good things would happen in the second half,” said Albemarle coach Greg Maynard. “And it kind of panned out that way.”
Western simply couldn’t stop the bleeding with Albemarle getting going, and while they didn’t go into a deeper hole in the third, the struggles continued in the fourth. Instead of dictating the pace as they had in the first half, Western allowed Albemarle to control much of the flow.
“I don’t really know what happened,” said Western coach Darren Maynard. “Their effort level in the second half so dwarfed ours this is the only result that could happen. It’s strange the way we played in the first half, I thought we did a lot of good things in the first half.”
Mangrum finished with 11 points to lead Western, with the bulk of that coming at the line where he went 7-for-8. Western managed just 10 field goals in the game.
It helped the Patriots of course that they cut down on the fouling in the second half after multiple starters had two fouls in the first half. They forced Western into taking contested, difficult shots and then cleaning up on the boards. Chris Cox led that effort with 13 rebounds to go with his 10 points for a solid double double.
“Chris has been a big help on offensive rebounds, giving us second chance points,” Jones said. “He’s been a great help.”
Murkey was particularly impressive off the bench in the second half, scoring all nine of his points after the break including a couple of hard fought drives. With Dasaun Taylor dishing out seven assists, the offense had a much better flow after the break.
“Justin and Jake Larosa always give us a good lift off the bench there’s not a whole lot of difference between them and our starters,” Greg Maynard said. “Justin really gave us a nice spark there, he’s capable of doing that.”
Albemarle and Western will both take a week off before jumping into the Holiday Tournament field December 27 with the Patriots hosting Landon at 7:15 p.m. while Western will play Kettle Run at AHS at 2 p.m.