In Wednesday’s Region 5, Class D quarterfinal win over William Fleming, Albemarle played a tight first quarter before going on a run in the second and dominating the rest of the game.
Friday night the run came a little later.
In the semifinals against Brooke Point, the Blackhawks ran neck-and-neck with the Patriots for three quarters. But with a decisive 17-0 run that stretched over eight minutes bridging the third and fourth quarters, Albemarle took control. Then the Patriots made 12 free throws down the stretch to pull away for a 55-42 victory that wasn’t as lopsided as the final score indicated.
With the win, Albemarle earned a state tournament berth for the third season in a row and grabbed a spot in the Region 5D final Tuesday that they’ll host.
The Blackhawks, who trailed by two at halftime, scored the first four field goals and got a pair of free throws from Roderick Wright to take a 29-24 lead.
Then senior guard Cartier Key took matters into his own hands, getting a steal and a pair of free throws followed by a strong take to the bucket to cut the lead to one, and a layup in traffic by J’Quan Anderson gave the Patriots a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, 30-29 after three.
“A lot of these guys have been in these situations before,” said Albemarle coach Greg Maynard. “That always helps, to have good guard experience, and we’re really playing with a lot of intensity on defense.”
It didn’t stop there. The Patriots got fourth quarter treys from Na’il Arnold and Maxx Jarmon, the latter of whom had four triples, and not until Wright’s old-fashioned three-point play with 3:31 to play did Brooke Point touch the scoreboard again.
By then, the margin was nine and Albemarle was in the double bonus. For good measure, the Patriots held the Blackhawks to just one field goal the rest of the way.
“We really had to buckle down on defense,” Maynard said, “and I think our defense created some transition baskets and some things to get us back in range. And as soon as we started making some and getting to the free-throw line, we started to pull away a little bit.”
The battle-tested Blackhawks, who upset district rival Stafford on the road in the quarterfinals, gave Albemarle all it could handle in the first three quarters. The Patriots led 15-11 after an 9-2 burst to close the first, but Brooke Point ran off a 7-0 spurt early in the second to take a one-point advantage on the strength of Marcus Bass three-pointer.
But Jarmon hit one of his three first-half 3-pointers to give Albemarle the lead back, and the Patriots led 23-21 after a half in which neither team led by more than six. His game-high 14 points led the team while Arnold and Anderson had 13 apiece. Arnold led Albemalre with eight rebounds.
The Blackhawks, whose season comes to an end at 20-8, were led by first-team all-Commonwealth District selection Zavien Pressley’s 13 points while Wright added 11.
Albemarle will meet Harrisonburg on Tuesday night at home for the regional championship. Both teams are already assured of advancing.