By David Wagner
The Western Albemarle High School varsity girl’s basketball team finished the year in tough fashion at the State Tournament. Brunswick defeated the Warriors 55-31 in the first round at VCU’s Siegel Center March 2, ending Western’s season.
The loss was not indicative of the great year the Warrior’s had. Seniors Emily Marbury, Bridget Shaffrey, Kathryn Crickenberger and Abby Sewell are the only seniors to play in two state tournaments.
The Warriors finished the season 16-12 overall and were 9-4 against Jefferson District opponents. They had wins against Albemarle, Covenant and R. E. Lee.
After an upset loss to Powhatan in the Jefferson District Tournament (Western beat them in both regular season meetings), the Warriors beat Fluvanna for the third consecutive time in the first round of regional’s 41-26. They followed that up with an impressive 51-26 win over John Handley High School (Winchester), in the regional semifinal’s before losing to Monticello for the third time this season in the finals.
The seniors will be missed, but head coach Kris Wright has very talented young players. Starting freshman guard Anna Sumpter is a tremendous athlete, freshman Julia Haws added quality minutes off the bench, and juniors Rachel Cooke and Emma Kulow will undoubtedly be team leaders next season. Sophomores Erin Clark and Alex Starsia, along with freshmen Natalie Marbury, Erin Farina and junior Diana Webb, round out the pool of talent returning next year. They will have to replace Marbury’s exceptional play at point guard, Shaffrey’s presence in the middle and Crickenberger’s outside shooting, but the pieces are in place.
Handley Pulls Off Upset
The Western Albemarle boy’s basketball team headed into the regional tournament as a top seed after winning the Jefferson District’s regular season and tournament titles.
Facing Fauquier County at home in the first round of regionals, the Warriors cruised to victory, 89-72. Western led 37-23 at the half and never looked back. Chase Stokes scored 18 points in the contest and Sam Chisholm dominated late in the game, scoring 16 fourth quarter points.
The Warriors then hosted John Handley High School (Winchester) in the regional semi-finals in an exciting game from start to finish. Handley jumped out to a 10-4 lead before the Warriors answered with a 17-4 run to end of the first quarter up 21-14. Both offenses struggled in the second quarter with turnovers and missed opportunities, but Handley managed to score six straight points late and only trailed by one at the half, 28-27.
The action picked up in the third quarter with Chase Stokes hitting a three-pointer for the Warriors to start the period. The Warriors scored their final three points of the quarter from the foul line and took a 45-40 lead into the fourth quarter. Stokes again started the quarter with another three-pointer to give Western an eight-point advantage.
But Handley would not be denied. They turned up the defensive pressure and the Warriors only managed to score seven more points the rest of the way.
Western led 53-48 with 3:30 to go in the game. Handley then put full court pressure on Western, causing turnovers and sloppy play by the Warriors, and after a seven-point run took the lead at 55-53. Jake Maynard hit two big free throws for Western to tie the game at 55 with less than two minutes to go in the game.
Handley went into their half-court offense to stall and wait for a good scoring opportunity. They called timeout with 1:04 left. Handley appeared to be holding the ball for the last shot. Western decided not to foul, leaving the game in the hands of their defense. As the clock wound down the Warriors turned up their intensity, pressuring the ball and making it difficult for Handley. It looked as though they weren’t going to get a shot off, but point guard Tre Brown hit a three-pointer as time expired, giving Handley a dramatic 58-55 victory.