While Charlottesville came into the 2016 Holiday Classic with a 7-1 record, it was sitting on its only loss of the year, one on the road to Louisa with a week to think about it. Well, after defeating Franklin County, Monticello and finally Albemarle on Thursday in the championship game, 64-55, the Black Knights get to take a four-day break to enjoy the quick 3-game winning streak.
“The girls really wanted to win this one and I thought it was a really good tournament, and one where the four local teams were in the winners bracket after the first day which was really great for the area,” said Charlottesville coach Jim Daly. “That’s a good sign of things to come. We got some great energy out this and saw some things that we can still work on. We’re excited.”
The Black Knights started their second meeting with the Patriots in just 13 days by sprinting out to an 11-2 run in the first four minutes and take a 19-8 lead into the second quarter thanks to five 3-pointers.
“We came out with good defensive energy and sunk some wide open shots after facing some of the defenses they had planned for us,” Daly said. “I thought we did a good job of executing and playing really unselfish. We made good decisions. We weren’t just chucking it up because we were facing a zone.”
After a back-and-forth second quarter, Charlottesville saw its lead trimmed down to five points but then the Black Knights’ depth showed its might.
Behind Daeja Wade, Alexis Henderson and Zanequa Thomas, Charlottesville proved to be too much for the Patriots. With standouts Alaijah Ragland and Destinee McDonald still doing their thing, the Black Knights were able to finish the third quarter with a 20-6 run and take a 52-33 lead into the fourth quarter.
“We played aggressively and our passes were there,” Wade said. “Our 3’s were there all game, and when they started splashing I got really excited. They were playing a triangle-and-two on us so that then opened up some space in the paint and so I started attacking.”
Albemarle regrouped in the beginning of the fourth with an 8-0 run to start the frame and make it 52-41, but Charlottesville never let it get close as the Black Knights took a 17-point lead late in game before subbing out all of their starters. The Patriots refused to call it a night, and were able to make it a single digit deficit behind their press, but there was simply not enough time to do any more damage.
“We just didn’t adjust well and I felt like that was mostly my fault,” said Albemarle coach Rachel Proudfoot. “We tried the triangle-and-two, some man-to-man, the help side defense just wasn’t there. So really whatever defense we played we had some issues. In this rivalry it’s whoever’s playing best that night and Charlottesville was just better than we were.”
For Charlottesville, McDonald had 19 points while Wade finished with 16. Henderson chipped in 14 points while Thomas had 11 to give the Black Knights four of its five starters double digit scoring efforts.
“We’ve just got to keep our focus,” Wade said. “We’ve got to keep the energy up and moving forward.”
Aiyanah Tyler-Cooper led Albemarle with 14 points, with 10 of those coming at the free throw line. Anne Ridenhour finished with 10 points. Haylee Howard-Radde threw in seven points.
“I think this experience in this tournament, getting to a championship game, that’s only going to help us grow so we’ll just have to see what’s in store for the new year,” Proudfoot said.
The Black Knights (8-1) host Fluvanna County on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. while the Patriots travel to Powhatan, also on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.