Right at the end of the third quarter in the first of Saturday’s Group 5A semifinal games in Hampton, it appeared that the move had been made, that the die had been cast. Albemarle’s boys basketball was in complete control, up 13 points and just eight minutes away from a state title game appearance.
It was, apparently, just the first shot fired.
In the fourth quarter and through two overtimes, the Patriots battled an equally relentless L.C. Bird team and the Skyhawks, with some adept clock melting and with Johquin “Pinky” Wiley’s tortured over-the-shoulder lay-up with 3.8 seconds to play in the second overtime, ended Albemarle’s season with a 61-59 victory.
“They’re one of the top teams in the state and we obviously gave them everything they could handle,” said Albemarle coach Greg Maynard. “Two overtimes and we had a chance to win it at the end of regulation, it was a good look, it just didn’t go in.”
Late in the second overtime, J’Quan Anderson tied the game at 59-59 on a steal and a lay-up, breathing new life into an Albemarle team that was on the rocks at that point, down a bucket with Bird milking the clock.
But that set the stage for Wiley, the Skyhawks’ senior point guard who had been in that spot before and finished with 11 points, five assists and three steals for L.C. Bird on the night.
“A lot of times in those type of situations I’ve kind of made shots for my team,” Wiley said. “It’s just making plays, that’s my job at point guard. It could’ve been me passing, but it happened to be me (making a lay-up).”
Out of an Albemarle timeout, Austin Katstra, who finished with 24 points and 15 boards in another monster double double effort, let a halfcourt heave rip with Jake Hahn desperately trying to get a timeout to reset near midcourt. Katstra’s shot sailed short and wide and Hahn who had 12 points and nine rebounds, wasn’t awarded the timeout, setting off a celebration by the Skyhawks, who advanced to the title game for the second straight year.
Albemarle’s late third quarter surge that looked pretty decisive at the time, came in the form of a Na’il Arnold dunk, a J’Quan Anderson 3-pointer and another Arnold bucket. Arnold finished with eight points and eight rebounds while Anderson had 13 points, six boards and three steals. The sequence gave Albemarle a sizeable lead. But free throw shooting in the fourth faltered for the Patriots as they went 1-for-6 at the line (7-for-14 in regulation, 9-for-16 in the game), opening the door for the Skyhawks’ comeback effort.
“I can remember a couple of costly ones that we could have really used coming down at the end of regulation but we had some chances,” Maynard said. “Their guards are such good ball-handlers that except for the one steal J’Quan had (in the second overtime) we couldn’t get the ball out of their hands and they kept waiting for the last shot.”
Bird cut the lead to two with 3:32 to play and the game was nip-and-tuck from there, with L.C. Bird’s Cam Henry making a ton of big buckets while scoring 23 points while Harvard commit Mario Haskett also stepped up with 15 points and seven rebounds. The Skyhawks tried to melt the clock for a final shot after Wiley had a steal and two to tie the game at 51-51, but Wiley got hit with an offensive foul, giving Albemarle a chance at the game-winner. It didn’t fall and the game headed to overtime.
Wiley got his first look at a game-winner at the end of the first overtime but it didn’t fall, setting up the redemption chance in the second extra period.
The game ended the careers of Katstra and Hahn, one of the most productive classmate duos in Scrimmage Play area boys basketball history. Katstra scored more than 1900 points in his career while Hahn has notched north of 1400, and that doesn’t begin to tell the tale of two back-to-back state final four runs that are unprecedented in the Albemarle program’s history. They didn’t get the perfect ending they were looking for that seemed well within their grasp with eight minutes left in regulation, but the Hahn-Katstra partnership won’t soon be forgotten.
“I counted and it’s about 90 wins in four years, averaging 22 a season,” Maynard said. “Each year it has gone up. Just incredible careers for both of them. I can’t say enough about them, I’m extremely proud of them and the whole team.”