Albemarle never looked panicked. Yes, a substantial first half lead had whittled down to four points halfway through the fourth quarter. But points in the paint from Austin Katstra and help on the offensive glass from Jake Hahn allowed the Patriots reclaim a double-digit margin. While Albemarle had to finish the game up at the free throw line, the outcome in the championship game with West Potomac in the 2016 Holiday Classic was never truly in doubt.
With a 77-68 win, the Patriots head into 2017 with a perfect record and as a team that’s ready to make the next year as substantial as 2016 was for the program.
“You have to give West Potomac credit because we came out in the second half looking like we were going to put it on them and I told the guys we still had a long way to go,” said Albemarle coach Greg Maynard. “They’re a good team and they cut that 22-point lead down to four but we responded with big baskets and free throws and held on. It was a hard fought win with two of the top teams in the state I think. They’re a great 6A team and we’re playing well as a 5A team. It’s just great to play this competition at this time of year.”
The Patriots got out to a 16-8 lead in the first quarter with Katstra leading the way with scoring eight points. The second quarter saw things pick up offensively for both squads. Albemarle’s J’Quan Anderson had eight points and Katstra threw in six more to give the Patriots a 36-22 lead going into the break.
At one point in the third, Albemarle had a 22-point lead as Hahn got rolling offensively with 10 points in the frame. But so did the Wolverines behind Khalil Williams who poured in 15 points in the third to make it 59-45.
“Playing this team made us better as a team,” Anderson said. “They were very good, had athletes that were hard to stop. It helped the guards, we learned a lot about looking for help.”
In the fourth, Williams and teammate Daryl Mackey trimmed the Albemarle lead to 59-55 to force an Albemarle timeout. From their the Patriots went on a 7-0 run capped by a dunk from Katstra on a fast break with an impressive assist from Anderson.
“Every time I’m on a fast break and I see Austin or Jake, I look to dump it off to them so they can do what they do,” Anderson said. “Usually, like 99.9% of the time it’s a dunk which we love, a high percentage shot. I’m glad I passed the ball there and Austin was able to finish.”
Back up comfortably, the Patriots went to work on the clock and hit just enough free throws to keep it a 3-possesion game the rest of the way through to wrap up the win.
“I emphasized the fundamentals at the end during a time out,” Maynard said. “We just couldn’t catch and throw it. We had to make ball fakes, get good ball fakes, create open shots.”
Albemarle was led by Katstra’s 26 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks. Anderson finished with 18 points and five assists. Hahn chipped in 16 second-half points to go with 12 rebounds. Na’ail Arnold had eight points while Jarmon Maxx chipped in seven.
The Patriots (11-0) host Powhatan on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Albemarle's Austin Katstra talks about his team's 77-68 win over West Potomac in First off the Floor presented by Physical Therapy at ACAC: pic.twitter.com/AMQMLgBNyi
— scrimmageplay (@scrimmageplay) December 30, 2016