Early Spark: Western girls push past Albemarle to earn spot in JD final

Photo by Bart Isley

Western Albemarle’s Ellie Plantz had an idea.


“We haven’t run that play in awhile, it’s a play that slips our minds,” Plantz said. “I know that Annie (Meenan) is good at driving and I thought she had a good chance against their defenders.”


Western called the isolation play and Meenan drove and scored. Plantz’ idea turned into a spark that got the second half off to a strong start for the Warriors. From there, Western weathered a charge by Albemarle in the Jefferson District semifinals to win 45-30.


Top-seeded Western (18-6) will square off with Charlottesville Tuesday night in the district championship game in Crozet at 6 p.m.


Sydney Sherman’s double double is a big reason the Warriors won their third-straight against the Patriots as she posted 13 points and 13 rebounds including eight first quarter points that gave Western an early lead. Along with fellow sophomore Caity Driver, who had eight points and seven rebounds, Sherman helped Western build on that early lead and pull away from the Patriots.


“They both did a really good job on the boards,” said Western coach Kris Wright. “We got them both a couple of touches they scored on. They’re both developing rapidly, they worked extremely hard this offseason to be ready for this moment and they’ve improved all season long. It’s nice to have that one-two punch.”


With the scoring coming from underneath, it mattered little that Elisabeth Coffman scored just two points, a pair of first quarter free throws. Coffman dished out four assists and had three steals while only turning the ball over four times while Albemarle cranked up the ball pressure on the Warriors’ point guard in the second half. Coffman met the challenge and with some help from Plantz, who scored seven critical points.


Western hit free throws down the stretch, allowing them to pull away after Albemarle cut the lead to just six points with 5:05 to play. The Warriors went 9-for-15 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter, preventing the Patriots from clawing all the way back.


“It was a really gutty performance, we knew Albemarle was going to battle, we know they’re talented, they’ve beaten some really good teams this year,” Wright said. “We knew Albemarle was going to be ready to play and we’d have to match that grit wise and I thought we did.”


Makinna Winterton’s 10 points led the Patriots while Haylee Howard-Radde scored seven.


Mady Starsia had four assists and two steals. Anna O’Shea took six points.