By Drew Goodman / Scrimmageplaycva.com contributor
The word resilience has been tossed around those close to the Albemarle boys’ basketball team for the past week, and for good reason. On Monday, the Patriots began life without leading scorer, Josh Morse, who will miss the remainder of the 2020 season with a stress fracture in his foot.
Then, in Friday’s rivalry showdown with district-leading Charlottesville, the Patriots once again stared adversity in the face. Less than one minute into the third quarter, point guard Jackson Rose came down awkwardly and appeared to suffer a serious leg injury.
Already down their top scorer and having just witnessed one of their teammates being carted out of the gym, Albemarle had just two minutes of layup practice to regain their composure. After a momentary lapse following the long injury layoff, the Patriots played inspired basketball to earn arguably their most important win of the season.
Albemarle grabbed the lead in the final seconds of the first half and refused to let it go en route to a 65-57 win.
“Going through this, the emotional loss of Jackson in the early second half, and after losing Josh two games ago… I just can’t be any prouder of my team right now,” AHS head coach Greg Maynard said following the win. “We’re just piecing it together with the bodies that we have, and just everybody is doing something to help the team.”
The injury came on the heels of two of Rose’s best offensive outputs of the season. The sophomore scored 22 points, all in the second half in Monday’s win at Riverbend, before tallying 15 against Fluvanna the following night.
Rose notched his first field goal of the game to put the Pats ahead by six, before suffering the game-ending injury. The contest was delayed for nearly 30 minutes as paramedics arrived to transport Rose. Albemarle led by six when play resumed, but the Knights scored on back-to-back buckets, and trimmed the deficit to just two points in less than 30 seconds.
Following a timeout and fiery speech from Maynard, the Patriots went right back to work. Three different Patriots scored on a quick 7-0 run that forced a timeout from the other bench. Cam Johnson capped the run with a corner three-pointer to send the red-clad Albemarle student section into a frenzy and give the Patriots their largest lead of the night at the time.
Charlottesville eventually battled back to pull within four and appeared to be heading into the final quarter down by just five, before Will Hornsby hit a back-breaking three after killing about 40 seconds off of the clock. The long ball was crucial for the home team all night.
As a team, Albemarle knocked down nine triples. Hornsby knocked down four of them, and finished with a team-best, 17 points. The Pats took complete control of the game in the third quarter, but the run truly began midway through the second.
The Patriots fell behind by 11 points, but refused to give up on the long ball.
On the first Albemarle possession following a timeout, Christopher Woods got fouled on a three-point attempt, and proceeded to hit all three foul shots. Then, after misfiring on several three point attempts to open the game, the Patriots finally got hot from long range. Johnson, Hornsby, and Kywan Washington each knocked down three-pointers, and the Patriots began to close the gap.
A bucket by Dasuan Taylor with 11.1 seconds left capped an explosive 17-5 run in less than four minutes, and lifted Albemarle to an improbable one-point lead at intermission.
“I think we clamped down on defense and we started making some of those open shots,” Maynard said of the second quarter run. “It was some different people making them. Cam Johnson knocked a few of them in and Will Hornsby had a good shooting game.”
Horsnby led the way, but the Patriots were pretty balanced on offense in the winning effort. Cam Johnson fell just shy of double figures, scoring nine big points. Taylor had to play the entire second half as the team’s lone true ball handler in Rose’s absence, and he finished with eight. Woods, Wilson Hagen, and Justin Murkey each added seven points.
Washington chipped in five points in his first game back after breaking his foot earlier in the season. Charlottesville started the game by getting to the low block with ease in its first crack at Albemarle without Morse clogging the lane on defense.
The Knights scored 14 of their first 22 points inside the paint, before the Patriots began to stop them off the dribble. Christian Stewart used his six-foot-one frame to notch 12 of his game-high 18 points in the first half.
Charlottesville never made it a one possession game following Albemarle’s early 7-0 run in the third quarter, but senior Isiah Washington was a one-man wrecking crew in the second half. Washington scored seven straight CHS points late in the third quarter to pull the Black Knights to within four, and bring life to the purple-clad Charlottesville student section. Washington continued to be a pest for the Knights, until he fouled out with 2:36 remaining in the contest.
With the win, Albemarle has now beaten every team in the Jefferson District and is only one game behind CHS and Western in the loss column atop the standings. AHS dropped its first games with league heavyweights, Western Albemarle, Louisa, and the Knights, before winning the second district meeting with those three squads.
The Black Knights will try and bounce back Tuesday against Fluvanna on the road while the Patriots will step out of district Wednesday against Harrisonburg on the road.