By David Wagner
The Western Albemarle Varsity boys’ basketball team has gotten off to a hot start. Winning their season-opening tournament with victories over Harrisonburg and Covenant, the Warriors were on their way to a 6-0 start. They’ve cooled off, losing three of their last five. The first loss came at Fort Defiance the day after a thrilling home overtime win against Charlottesville (54-51). The second loss came in the championship game of the Holiday Classic versus STAB (61-56). Western defeated Culpeper and Albemarle en route to the championship game, and the third loss came last Friday night in Fluvanna. The Warriors were without the services of senior Chase Stokes and the home-standing Flucos were able to force overtime and come away with a 49-45 win. It was the first district loss of the season for the Warriors, who are now 8-3 overall and 4-1 in the Jefferson District. The Warriors’ three other district wins came versus Louisa, Orange and Monticello.
The Warriors are led by seniors Sam Chisholm and Chase Stokes. Chisholm plays aggressively and relentlessly in the low post. He scores, rebounds, plays great defense and is a force to be reckoned with in the paint. Stokes is involved at both ends as well. His endless hustle and determination create scoring opportunities. He creates fast break points with steals and long rebounds.
Point guard Eli Sumpter has gotten off to a fast start as well. His ball handling skills, three-point shooting and foul shooting keep defenses honest. Opponents can’t place all their concentration on Stokes and Chisholm. Sumpter can distribute the ball and also score from the perimeter. Along with Sumpter, Jake Maynard has also lessened the pressure on Stokes and Chisholm. Maynard can score, play defense and is an all around solid player.
The Warriors have depth, talent, experience and a winning attitude. Head Coach Darren Maynard seems to get the most out of his teams and it looks like this season will be no different. At 4-1 in the district and with a win over Albemarle (that wasn’t an official district game since it was played in the Holiday Classic Tournament), the Warriors are poised to make another run at the Jefferson District title. They still have to play Albemarle two more times and they will play CHS and Monticello on the road, but they’ve beaten both of them at Western already. Those four games are likely to go a long way in determining whether or not the Warriors win the district title. The Warriors play at Albemarle Friday, January 10 in a key Jefferson District tilt.