Albemarle’s MarQuelah Wilson wasn’t sure she was going to be able to handle the entry pass from Sylvie Jackson.
“I didn’t think I was going to catch it at all just because of how the ball was kind of tipped,” Wilson said.
She plucked it out of the air, quickly collected herself and muscled it up between a pair of Western Albemarle defenders, banking in the shot with under 10 seconds to play that put the Patriots up for good. A defensive stand on the other end later and Albemarle picked up a huge 34-33 win.
“When the ball gets in MarQuelah’s hands you know she’s going to shoot it,” said Albemarle senior Jamie Rademacher. “I wasn’t worried.”
Rademacher hit a critical long jumper as the Patriots attempted to rally, putting Albemarle up 32-31 with 1:02 to play. Western re-took the lead when Sydney Sherman hit a pair of free throws, but the Warriors missed two critical lay-ups in the final minutes that kept the door open for the Patriots.
“We’re much better than we were five or six weeks ago,” said Western coach Kris Wright. “We didn’t close it out tonight. We need to have that kind of consistent mentality and confident mentality all the time.”
The Warriors even forced Jackson into a tough spot with some tight defense on Wilson’s game-winner and the Albemarle freshman just made an incredible play to get the ball to Wilson, capping a night where Jackson led the Patriots with 11 points. The Patriots have gotten some inspired play from a roster dominated by underclassmen and the hard-fought win over the Warriors that completed a season sweep of their cross-county rival was another step in the right direction.
“We’re all a unit and we pick up after each other,” Wilson said. “Everybody will feed off of each other’s energy.”
Both teams locked each other down defensively, with Wilson’s six points and Rademacher and Amanda Warlick’s five points serving as the bulk of the Albemarle offense behind Jackson. Sherman led Western with 11 points, Kate Wallace had nine points and Caity Driver chipped in seven points and 10 rebounds.
Albemarle will travel to Louisa County Tuesday night while Western will look to bounce back at home against Fluvanna the same night.