Road Warriors: Western beats Spotswood to win Region 3C title

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Western Albemarle’s boys basketball team has hung its hat on hard-nosed, UVA packline-style defense all season. 


Finding itself on the road in Penn Laird, matching up with an undefeated Spotswood squad in the Region 3C title game, the Warriors changed little from what has gotten them success all season. Their defensive intensity won them an extremely hard fought victory over the Trail Blazers, winning 50-47 to give Western the region title, something the Warriors have become quite accustomed to in the past decade. 


“I thought we handled their pressure very well.” Western Albemarle head coach Darren Maynard said. “Spotswood’s really good at it, they come at all angles and they never let us run an offense because they were running and trapping somebody all the time.” 


Spotswood rode its chaotic defense in the first half to go blow for blow with the Warriors. Star junior guard Carmelo Pacheco paced the Blazers with seven points, while creating multiple looks for his teammates as well as controlling the tempo of the game. Western responded by slowing down the tempo on offense, and Jake Jeronimus nailed the Warriors only three of the game to give Western a 27-26 advantage when the dust settled at the half. 


The Warriors pushed their lead out to five early in the third quarter, and each time Spotswood responded, Western slowed the tempo down and found the shot they wanted-typically a finish inside from Sean Lanahan or Dillon Bergert. 


“It was usually their man going off to trap somebody, and they did a good job of getting the ball at the basket and being aggressive,” Maynard said. 


The two big men hit multiple timely buckets inside as they kept the Blazers at arms length throughout the third, holding to a 38-32 lead heading into the 4th. 


The Blazers finally began to hit some outside shots in the 4th to keep them within striking distance. Parker Webb connected on a corner 3 to make it 44-39, and then Pacheco put back a three that hit every inch of the rim to make it a three point game. Spotswood coach Chad Edwards called time to reset his defense, but Western was once again able to withstand the storm of Spotswoods intense defensive pressure and generate a shot they wanted. 


“I thought our kids handled the pressure really well, I thought Lewis Childers played particularly well at the point.” Maynard said. 


The Warriors were able to make free throws to preserve their lead, but Chase Byington nailed another corner three with 7 seconds left to cut the lead to two. Western’s Jack Kastner went 1-for-2 at the line, and Spotswood had a chance to tie it. Pacheco found Tyler Sprague at the top of the key for a potential game-tying bucket, and Western was whistled for a foul as Sprague’s shot bounced off the rim. 


After a tense moment of deliberation from the refs, the ball was ruled to still be in Sprague’s hands as the horn sounded, giving the Warriors the region title and Spotswood their first loss. 


“We have a ton of respect for (Spotswood),” Maynard said. “We kind of hate playing them all the time because it’s always a war like this.” 


The win marks Western’s third straight over Spotswood, their last win coming on a buzzer beater in the 2020 playoffs before the Warriors moved up to Class 4 for a couple of years. Now back down in Region 3C, the teams are once again back to locking horns perennially in the playoffs. Since 2010, the two teams have met 13 times, with Spotswood holding a 7-6 advantage in the series. 


The two may match up again in the state tournament. Western will get to host a Class 3 state quarterfinal games against the runner up from Region 3D, which will be one of defending state champ Northside, Cave Spring (who has won two state titles since 2020), one-loss Tunstall or six-seed Abingdon. Spotswood will have to go on the road to face the Region 3D winner. 


Bergert led Western (21-5)  with 11 points, and Lanahan added 10 in the win.


Pacheco led the Blazers (26-1) with 15, Sprague added 10, and Byington chipped in 8.