Western Albemarle’s boys basketball team found a spark it hasn’t had yet this season in front of its home crowd Friday night while squaring off against Monticello.
“We played with so much more energy tonight than we have all year,” said Western coach Darren Maynard. “When we play with this kind of energy we’re pretty good.”
Western picked up a 75-44 win in the process, with the Warriors’ only returning starter from a year ago Tommy Mangrum leading the way with 21 points.
“I think tonight we found our way — everyone stepped up, everyone played big minutes,” Mangrum said. “When one person does something good, then it leads to the next thing.”
Western led just 16-14 at the end of the first but by halftime they were in control up 40-23 after a 10-point frame from Mangrum.He’ll be a critical post presence for Western this year, but he was dueling with a guard early in this one as Monticello’s Ben Drake provided the majority of Monticello’s scoring with 24 points. Drake got going early with 14 first half points
“I thought Tommy played exceptionally well,” Maynard said. “I thought Drake played exceptionally well for them but I guess we got a little more help for Tommy than they did.”
The Warriors’ supporting cast did give Western a little more punch to allow them to pull away.
Western point guard Riley Prichard scoring 12 while Daniel Brown, Gabe Nafziger and Henry Sullivan each scored nine. Nafzinger gave the Warriors an early lift with three first half 3-pointers while Prichard was steady handling the ball against the Mustangs, keeping Western out of trouble much of the night.
“It’s amazing the correlation between energy level and how much your shots go in and we finally had some energy level and the shots went in,” Maynard said. “Riley I thought played an excellent game for us at the point.”
Western used a press early on to speed up Monticello and with a largely new lineup for the Mustangs, the Warriors were able to force some turnovers and get some easy opportunities on the other end. A lot of those chances ended in free throws as Western drew a series of fouls and 18-for-25 at the line.
The win came on the tail end of an emotional stretch for Maynard who lost his mother Fran earlier in the week. It seemed appropriate that days after her passing two of her sons — Greg at Albemarle and Darren at Western — as well as her grandsons, Monroe head coach Brett Maynard and Albemarle assistant Drew Maynard, were coaching in heated rivalry games Friday night. Fran rarely missed games her children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren were playing in.
“When I spoke at her funeral yesterday I estimated that she and my dad were probably at 90 percent, 95 percent of all the games I ever played, high school and college,” Maynard said. “It was always comforting to look up in the stands and see them there.”
Western will travel to take on Orange County Tuesday while the Mustangs travel to take on Louisa the same night.