Top 10 games of 2016-2017

No. 1 — Albemarle football edges past Western Albemarle


When Albemarle and Western’s football teams lock up, it seems to always be a moment when local legends are made. In the last seven years, Western has won five of the seven matchups and yet, the teams are separated by a mere six points in total score. The Warriors rode five straight wins into this year’s installment, but Albemarle was the one who pulled off the win in the regular season finale and minted another one of those legends with Lorenz Brown’s catch on a J’Quan Anderson toss.


The Patriots had to rally because quarterback Derek Domecq was putting a Western squad that struggled much of the year to find consistency on his back and seemed poised to steal one from Albemarle. Domecq became a battering ram of a running back essentially in the second half, rushing for 93 yards on 20 touches in the game. Two straight scoring drives erased a 27-13 deficit and put Western up 28-27 with 6:25 left.


Albemarle and Western exchanged punts in those final six minutes to then set the stage for Anderson-to-Brown with 13 seconds to play, redemption after a rash of turnovers and a couple of balls dropped personally by Brown. Na’il Arnold then sealed the win with an interception on the final play.


It takes a lot at this point for the Albemarle and Western’s annual football clash to impress, but this edition did, writing the latest chapter in a tremendous last decade of the rivalry.


Clutch Redemption: Late touchdown lifts Albemarle past Western in rivalry thriller


No. 2 — Albemarle girls soccer wins state championship over Mountain View


The Patriots knew they’d be getting a fight from Mountain View — the two had met in the Region 5A North champioship game with Albemarle getting a 3-2 edge in overtime. But the 1-0 win over the Wildcats to secure the program’s first state championship was ripe with tension from start to finish.


Albemarle’s sound defense was the story of the first 79 minutes as goalkeeper Aiyanah Tyler-Cooper and her backline answered every call, including a big free kick to start the second half.


On the other side of the ball, the Patriots had plenty of opportunities but just couldn’t find a way to land shots in the right spot. And while it seemed those missed chances would come back to haunt Albemarle, in the last minute of regulation, the ball landed on Brooke Bauman’s foot and the making of the game winning goal was on. It took three seniors to make it happen, with Bauman finding Hannah Eiden who in turn hit a wide open Leticia Freitas flying down the wing. Freitas put the perfect touch on it and it was 1-0.


The next 50 seconds were frantic, which was understandable, but Albemarle was able to endure them and enjoy quite the celebration after the final buzzer sounded.


It was a perfectly fitting way for the Patriots to end their perfect season — a 1-0 shutout in a defensive struggle. And for fans, this one was well worth the road trip to Westfield.

That ship: Albemarle gets last minute game winner to beat Mountain View for state title


No. 3 — Madison County and William Monroe basketball OT thriller


So which one? There’s no right or wrong answer, really. The first meeting in mid-January saw the Mountaineers come from a double digit deficit to force overtime before winning 69-66 in Madison. The second bout in Stanardsville also went to overtime and also went the Mountaineers way, 53-47.


But we’re going to side with the latter here because the hype going into second round was out of this world. If you didn’t show up well, well in advance, you were turned away from the doors. Not many games get sold out, but this one did and there was a long line out the door for people waiting for the junior varsity game to end and allow for some more people to pack in. It was standing room only in Stanardsville on February 3rd.


The game itself had a great back-and-forth with Madison going up early and Monroe racing back. There was never much of a gap between the two after that as it was a 3-point game going into the fourth. And the fourth was fantastic. Madison’s Isiah Smith gave his team a 2-point lead with 11.6 seconds to play. Then Jaden Anderson picked up a last second bucket for the Dragons to force overtime. In overtime, Smith and Kobi Alexander gave their team a two-possesion lead, and thanks to free throws, the Mountaineers were able to wrap up the win.


There were a lot of big rivalry games this year but none of them were as hyped as this. And the fact that both teams delivered made it all the better. That is if you were lucky enough to see it.


Worth the wait: Madison edges Monroe in another OT thriller



No. 4  —  Charlottesville football versus Louisa County 54-42

Charlottesville’s football team had had a pretty good season, but it took the Black Knights a little while to put the right pieces together in the early going, and that put them up against a wall with 8-1 Louisa County coming to town. It wasn’t an easy regular season finale matchup by any means and with a potential playoff berth on the line for the Black Knights, the stakes got higher.

Charlottesville rose to the occasion, going back and forth in an absolute barnburner, matching the Lions, who were playing for seeding but brought it as they always do, no matter the situation, score for score.

Sabias Folley did a lot of the damage with four touchdowns and 145 yards on 23 touches for the Black Knights as they weathered a wild start to the game, with CHS leading Louisa 28-24. He helped offset Louisa quarterback Malik Bell’s own incredible performance, where he factored into five first half touchdowns, two through the air and three on the ground. The Lions’ big man even broke off a 68-yard jaunt at one point in the thriller.

In the end though, it was the Black Knights who came out on top, who punched their ticket to get into the playoffs and eventually, when all the math shook out, grabbing the program’s first home playoff game in more than a decade. They did it in dramatic fashion too, in one of the most thrilling games of the year.


Just Get In: Charlottesville punches playoff ticket with upset win over Louisa


No. 5 — Charlottesville boys basketball upsets Western Albemarle- Bart

The Jefferson District tournaments didn’t have an impact on conference tournament berths —  they weren’t the end all, be all that they were in the past under the conference tournament realignment system. But whenever Western Albemarle and Charlottesville lock up in boys basketball, there could be a consolation prize from an old game show on the line and the Warriors and Black Knights would fight tooth and nail for it.

That’s what happened in the Jefferson District semifinals this year as the two teams, just days after playing in a thriller of a second regular season meeting, played an overtime, down-to-the-wire game packed with close calls and a 3-pointer from an unlikely source. Western’s Ryan Ingram put the Warriors on his back at one point, then the Western defense appeared to step up and force a 10-second call before Charlottesville was awarded a timeout in a tense, wild atmosphere. There were heroes on each side, with players stepping up left and right.

In short? It was a great high school basketball game in a season that brought to a close a number of eras and included one of the top moments of the year, Immanuel Wells’ 3-pointer with just 3.4 seconds to play.


Wells’ overtime dagger lifts Charlottesville past Western



No. 6 — Miller edges Covenant baseball in VIC championship


The ending of the contest remains highly disputed. The video of the final play remains polarizing depending on which side you ask. At the end of the day, it would have been nice not to have a close call be the deciding difference in a well-played game between two teams that have built up quite the rivalry the last four years.

It was an impressive comeback by all means for the Mavericks. But what happened on that play that decided the outcome? Safe or out? Who really knows? What looked like to many to be a game ending groundout for Covenant to seal a 4-3 win wound up instead being a 5-4 win for Miller with the umpires ruling that the ball at first was bobbled and in the mayhem, the Mavericks plated Ethan Murray and Will Wagner to wrap up a wild game.

These two rivals aren’t knew to controversy in this game. Last year the Eagles were awarded a VIC title in a weather shortened game. So it was only natural that this game would be just as awkward and unusual.

With so many seniors on both sides, this VIC championship was a true game of pride as both were locked into the VISAA Division 2 tournament with the Mavericks seeded first and the Eagles seeded third. The two pitching staffs did their best to win and save their arms for the upcoming state tourney the following week. And while that latter tournament was the one that truly mattered at the end the day, one that saw Miller come away with a state championship over Atlantic Shores, the Mavericks single most interesting win of the season was the one before the state tournament began. Unless you ask Covenant. And the Eagles have a case that there’s reasonable doubt they didn’t lose this game. Murky waters make for great water cooler talk and this game had that and a heckuva game before the 21st out was or was not recorded.


Wild Finish: Miller baseball rallies on final play to edge Covenant for VIC title


No. 7 — Louisa County girls basketball edges Charlottesville with Jackson’s gamewinner

While the Louisa County girls basketball team’s end of a 20-year district title drought came just days later, the Lions’ victory over eventual state quarterfinalist Charlottesville High in the Jefferson District semifinals was a watershed moment. It was also one of the finest struggles in a wild season of Jefferson District girls basketball where four teams were battling it out for the district title and nearly everyone beat everyone.

In this one, Tyi Skinner continued her emergence as one of the area’s most formidable players, scoring 17 points in a defensive struggle. Louisa needed every single one of those points as they trailed Charlottesville by six going into the fourth quarter. The Lions also needed a slick assist from Skinner with under 10 seconds to play as she drew the defense to the baseline and then found Carmella Jackson for the tough leaner in the lane to win it.

While both teams went on to bigger things, including the Black Knights incredible run to the state quarterfinals and the Lions’ district and conference titles, this was two of Group 4A’s best going at it in this one.


Jackson’s late bucket lifts Louisa girls past CHS in JD semis


No. 8 — Orange County baseball survives 1-hitter from Louisa County

Old time rivals. And with the Hornets getting their first win over the Lions in four years just weeks prior, the second meeting between the two had big implications for a Jefferson District that was as good and balanced as it’s ever been.

While it was the year of the pitchers in 2017, there were times where the best performances came in losses. Orange’s Bradley Hanner was just a few starts removed from his first JD loss at the hands of Western Albemarle, one that saw him pitch masterfully. He was lights out on the hill against the Lions on the road in a game that they had to have to keep Louisa at bay and stay in step with the Warriors. Hanner, like all of 2016 and 2017, delivered in this one and had 10 strikeouts in the 1-0 win.

Of course the other side of the story was that Louisa’s Trystan Snyder threw a 1-hitter with six strikeouts and no walks. Unfortunately for the Lions, that one hit was an RBI double from the Hornets’ Trevon Smith in the top of the 3rd.

Then Snyder and Hanner stayed dialed in from there with the latter escaping a pair of jams, including a big one in the sixth.

There were so many great pitchers duels this year, but the 1-0 win for Orange when it got just one hit was probably the most fitting narrative for the district this year. And the game itself was defined by the two hurlers and the defense behind them, both of which made amazing plays to making this one a nail-biter from start to finish.


Hornets edge Lions in yet another impressive pitching duel


No. 9 — Madison softball edges Goochland in Region 2A championship

The Mountaineers’ state title run got really interesting in the second slate of the playoffs. Getting out of Conference 35 play hasn’t been easy these past few years, and qualifying for the Group 2A tournament proved insanely tough.

Madison was coming off a 12 inning semifinal with Nottoway before meeting up with Goochland. It took another 12 for the Mountaineers to earn a Region 2A crown. Bulldogs pitcher Kaitlyn Spencer worked out of one jam after another and finished with 11 strikeouts. McKenzie Reams gave the Bulldogs an early lead with her solo home run. The Mountaineers rallied back to tie it and then used both their pitchers, Logyn Estes and Emily Seale. Those two, as was the story of the year for this program, simply found a way to get the job done with 17 combined strikeouts.

But leading off in the bottom of the 12th, Seale helped her own cause as she hit a walkoff blast over the centerfield fence to pave the way for a 2-1 win.

In a pure pitchers duel, it was only fitting that two of the three runs came on home runs. Madison rode the momentum too, taking down both Richlands and Lebanon en route to a state title game. And while the state tournament was tense for the Mountaineers, the real drama for this team came in the Region 2A East tournament.


Walking it off: Madison softball beats Goochland with Seale homer in 12th


No. 10 — Western Albemarle boys tennis wins Group 3A championship

Western Albemarle’s boys tennis program is no stranger to success, but the Warriors’ current crop of standouts were in middle school the last time Western won a state title.

Which is why the poise that the young group showed in the state title match — just one senior cracked the top six — was so impressive. After going down 3-1 through the first four singles matches, the Warriors’ title bid against Blacksburg seemed to be in peril. But Western’s Simon Rader and Nicholas Hagspiel stepped on at No. 5 and No. 6 singles and evened the match at 3-3 with a pair of dominant performances. That opened the door for the Warriors’ near-unstoppable doubles lineup, led by the state’s doubles champs, Daniel Thomas and Alex Ix, to close out the championship and put the Warriors back on top of the heap in the state.

Comeback Kids: Western boys tennis rallies to beat Blacksburg, win Group 3A state championship



The Next 10

11. Albemarle boys lacrosse beats Western 11-10 in double overtime

12. Orange baseball wins in walk-off fashion against Western Albemarle
2-1 with seventh-inning rally

13. Madison County boys basketball beats R.E. Lee 59-57 in Region 2A
East championship game

14. Albemarle boys basketball falls 61-59 to L.C. Bird in state semifinals

15. Western Albemarle volleyball beats Turner Ashby 3-2 in Conference
29 championship

16. Western Albemarle football upends previously undefeated Louisa County 38-30

17. Tandem Friends boys basketball beats Quantico on last second shot
to win DAC title

18. Western versus Monticello conference championship girls lacrosse,
Kira Repich last second goal

19. Charlottesville boys soccer falls 2-1 to Kettle Run in state final
in overtime

20. Louisa football beats Sherando 22-21 in season opener

Honorable Mention

Madison County football beats East Rockingham 34-32

Woodberry football beats Episcopal 34-21

Madison girls soccer beats Clarke 1-0

Madison boys soccer beats George Mason 1-0

Goochland football beats Clarke County 28-14 in region playoffs

Fluvanna baseball beats Orange County 8-7 in walk-off fashion

Louisa County softball wins Conference 19 title with perfect game from
Taylor Robinson