Some games are won with a big first half, while others go down to the final possession.
The No. 3 seed Western Albemarle boys basketball team put its stamp on a victory during a pair of 3-minute stretches during the first half of a 69-34 win over No. 6 seed Fluvanna County on Friday in the Jefferson District Tournament quarterfinals.
The Warriors (19-5) used an 11-0 run in the first quarter, spearheaded by back-to-back 3-pointers from Tommy Mangrum and Andrew Shifflett, to build a 19-7 lead after one quarter of play.
“Today’s game, they were playing mostly zone, so it was mainly being patient with our shots,” Shifflett said. “Working the ball through and getting the right shot in our normal offense. We did a really good job of that tonight.”
Kobe Edmonds tried to bring Fluvanna County (8-14) back with a gritty layup and a nice no-look feed to Christopher Whittle for an uncontested basket to trim the lead to 21-14 with 2:58 left in the first half.
The momentum would be short-lived, however, as Mangrum tallied nine points during an 11-2 run, including three free throws with 4.7 seconds left to give Western a commanding 32-16 advantage at halftime.
The Flucos tried to answer early in the second half with five straight points, including a nice layup from John Rittenhouse on a long bounce pass from Bobby Gardner to close the gap to 42-21 a minute into the second half.
But Coach Darren Maynard’s team always had an answer.
Mangrum and Shifflett combined for 10 points during a 15-6 run to extend the margin to 47-27 after three quarters.
It was more of the same in the fourth as Shifflett’s steal resulted in a finger roll layup to give the Warriors their biggest lead, 65-31 with 3:17 left.
Nine different players scored in Friday’s win for Western Albemarle, a statistic Shifflett said the team takes a lot of pride in.
“Riley [Prichard] and I really try to attack the basket more because it really stretches things out for our offense,” Shifflett said. “We get our shooters like Tommy and if Riley’s on the 3-point line, he can shoot as well, so we’ve got a lot of options. Josh Sime has been finishing well inside and so has Henry Sullivan, so we’ve really got a lot of options that can help our offense in the postseason.”
Mangrum led all scorers with 22 points, including 15 in the first half. Shifflett registered 16, while Sime and Lucas Farmer chipped in eight points apiece.
Edmonds paced Fluvanna County with 12 points. Isaiah Rivera and Rittenhouse tallied eight points apiece in the loss.
Western Albemarle advances to Monday’s district tournament semifinals, where it will face No. 2 seed Albemarle in the teams’ fourth matchup of the season.
Each of the previous games were decided on the final possession and Shifflett and his teammates expect another close on next week.
“It’s huge,” Shifflett said. “We’re definitely going to come out with a lot of energy because we really wanted them our last game. It’s a huge win so we can advance in the tournament and we’re really looking forward to it.”