Last year was a record-breaking year for the Western Albemarle High School boys’ varsity basketball team. Led by seniors Will Cress, Mike Vale and Carrington Murphy, the squad tallied 24 wins—the most in school history—and qualified for the state tournament where, despite losing to Portsmouth-based powerhouse, IC Norcom High School in the quarter-finals, they recorded the deepest playoff run in school history.
While losing three star seniors hurt, coach Darren Maynard says the team’s five returning seniors have stepped up their game and assumed the mantle. “We lost some major guys but, with five seniors, we have an extremely mature team that, in terms of leadership and talent, hasn’t skipped a beat,” he said. “We were on the court three times a week throughout the fall and, coming off last year’s success, the chemistry is just amazing. I can tell you for a fact, these guys are hungry to win.”
Leading the effort is senior Ryan Ingram, the team’s returning All-State point-guard. “Ryan is a great, dependable player who’s worked hard to step into a leadership role,” said Maynard. “He’s a talented young man and has a chance to break quite a few [WAHS] individual records this season. He’s already off to a great start and I anticipate him following through and having a big year.”
Alongside Ingram is exceptional junior shooting guard Chris McGahren. “He’s a dangerous player and a fantastic shooter,” said Maynard. “Leave him open and he’ll convert.” With McGahren currently averaging nearly 50 percent from behind the arc for the season, Maynard’s assertions are by no means an exaggeration.
Additionally, the WAHS squad gets inside support from its 6-foot-9 senior forward, Austin Cress, whose presence on the boards and in the scorebooks—around 15 points and 8 rebounds per game on the season—provides a counterpoint to the Warriors shoot-heavy offense. “With three strong guards, it’s no secret we like to shoot the ball,” said Maynard. “And we look to Austin to offer inside support.”
Looking ahead at the February playoff season, Maynard says that, if the boys want it badly enough and stick to their guns, there’s no reason the team shouldn’t wind out the season with at least another district championship under their belts.