Western Albemarle wanted to take care of business early Friday night.
“We didn’t want to take any chances, Woodberry is a really good team and we were hungry for this one,” said Western’s Chris McGahren. “We didn’t want to wait around.”
The Warriors jumped out to a 17-1 lead in a 72-43 victory over Woodberry Forest in Western’s home opener a couple of days after falling to Mills Godwin on the road. Western cruised past the Tigers on the strength of McGahren’s outside shooting and Austin Cress doing the heavy lifting inside.
Cress scored 16 points and pulled down eight rebounds, cleaning up misses from Western throughout the first half in particular. That opened things up for McGahren — who had 14 points including four 3-pointers — and the Warriors’ other shooters as Woodberry collapsed to try and counter Cress’ production.
“Having that inside presence, he can finish off any shots that we miss, it gives our shooters a lot of confidence knowing that he’s there,” McGahren said. “We were able to jump out quickly and he was a big part of that the way he was scoring.”
The Warriors held Woodberry at bay after that 17-1 run but the Tigers did recover well after that early haymaker Western delivered. Calder Clay’s 17 points on the night were a big part of that recovery.
“Against a team that executes as well as Western Albemarle does, it’s a tough opening game for them but I was really proud of the way they came out in the second quarter after being knocked in the mouth,” said Woodberry coach Craig Dawson. “We’ve just got to learn to play with that consistent effort for 32 minutes and we’ll be alright.”
Friday was Woodberry’s first action of the season against any opposition, and they’re without several of their top players from last year including Max Johns who is out with an injury and Clark Yarbrough who is now at Stanford. That leaves a lot of players trying to acclimate to new roles on the fly.
The Tigers couldn’t claw back into it while breaking in that entirely new lineup, as Western expanded its lead in the second half with the defense holding Woodberry to just 19 points after the break. The Warriors played a lot of players as they look to rebuild some depth after graduating a number of players off last year’s squad.
“We’re trying to develop our depth, we had it from the get-go last year,” said Western coach Darren Maynard. “It looked much better this game than it did last year.”
Western’s Josh Coffman filled up the stat sheet with 11 points, four steals, four rebounds and three assists while Ryan Ingram had seven points and four assists.
The loudest cheer of the night from the Warriors’ student section came when Patrik Bodnarik came off the bench and buried a baseline jumper. He finished with four points and three boards. Another reserve, Garrett Payne, knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and pulled down three boards.
Western will take on Fluvanna County next week before a rivalry clash with Albemarle on Friday while the Tigers battle Massanutten Military Academy Tuesday.