Western Albemarle’s boys basketball team doesn’t usually need any extra motivation when the Warriors are squaring off with longtime rival Albemarle. But in the second installment of a three part series this year, Western coach Darren Maynard made sure they had a reminder of the Warriors’ loss in part one during the Holiday Classic.
“Coach Maynard, every day he had that runner’s up trophy next to us,” said Western guard Aidan Sims.
In fact, Maynard had it all over the gym.
“I did that, (I put it) in various places around the inside of the gym while we were practicing,” Maynard said. “(Everyone saw it) multiple times. We weren’t real happy with how we played in that game, we wanted to redeem ourselves, that was the theme we latched on to.”
Western responded, winning the rematch 64-57 to set up a round three rubber match at Albemarle on February 3 and give the Warriors an advantage in the Jefferson District standings.
The Warriors got it done with a balanced offense as four players scored in double figures, with Wes Gobble’s 15 points leading the way. James Dahl put together a big first half in route to a double double with 13 points and 14 boards. Sims chipped in 11 points and six rebounds, with four points coming on buzzer beaters at the end of the first and third quarters. Josh Sime was quiet in the second half, but scored eight of his 10 before the break and hauled in nine rebounds. Alex Keeton rounded out the bulk of the scoring with nine points.
“It’s a big win and it’ll be really tough over there in about three weeks,” Maynard said. “We’ve got a lot of work still to do, they’re a tremendous basketball team. We knew it was going to be a heck of a battle and it was.”
The Warriors came out of the gate on fire, building a 23-14 lead in the first quarter. They got there by sharing the wealth too, with five players scoring four or more points in that opening frame. The game slowed down in the second quarter, but Western expanded its advantage and led 34-22 at the break. Gobble then made his presence felt in the third with two 3-pointers that helped push the Western advantage to 54-37.
Albemarle finally strung together some buckets in the fourth quarter and cut the lead to two points at 57-55 with under four minutes to go. But Sims hit two free throws with 3:20 left and pushed the lead back out to 59-55 and that was about as close as Albemarle got, missing three decent looks on a single possession down the stretch while Western knocked home eight of 11 free throw attempts in the final frame.
The Patriots played without the services of La’mari Parler and had to endure sharpshooter Ben Wesson fouling out in the fourth while they tried to mount a comeback. Christian Humes had 13 points to lead Albemarle while Noah Grevious and Ben Wesson had 11 and Carter Wesson finished with 10.
Western, however, will savor the leg up it gives them in the Jefferson District regular season crown race over the Patriots.
“This is a big win, it’s a big rivalry and it’s great playing in it,” Sims said. “I’ve been growing up on these games, coming to them, it’s great to get this win.”