“You’ve got to play great defense and make free throws. If you do that, you got a chance to win,” said FCHS head coach Munro Rateau.
After a slow first half, Western held a 24-19 lead with 5:52 left in the third quarter. Fluvanna then went to a 2-3 zone that created issues for the Warriors. The inside advantage WAHS had was mitigated by a packed in zone and the length the Flucos have on the perimeter kept Western shooters at bay.
“We didn’t handle the 2-3. I would’ve never bet you anything that a 2-3 would bother us this year, but it has,” said WAHS head coach Darren Maynard. “We had some people that were reluctant to shoot the ball that we really count on to shoot the ball. I’m not really sure what caused that.”
Fluvanna narrowed the five-point gap with a Brad Bullock basket. That was followed by Vinny Agee hitting a shot at the top of the key from a Jalen Harrison handoff. The shot pulled it to 24-23 WAHS.
Agee’s next shot was an errant 3-pointer but he was fouled on the follow through. He made all three free throws to get FCHS the lead and it would never relinquish it.“I don’t know what happened but we just turned it up in the second half — started rebounding and pushing the ball down the court,” said Harrison.
The Fluco 2-3 zone created too many issues for WAHS to overcome. The score also forced Western Albemarle into a more aggressive defense that allowed Fluvanna to speed the game up.
“We really kept the ball going,” said Agee. “We didn’t settle for pass and shoot. We worked the ball around for the better shot instead of [on] first pass.”
The first half was dominated by the inside presence of Western. Fluvanna was hesitant to pass it inside. With jump shots not falling, WAHS cleaned up on the boards.
To make matters worse for Fluvanna, early foul trouble required scoring presence of Harrison and Agee to the bench. Still, Western Albemarle only score five points in the the second quarter, matching Fluvanna’s total.
“I told our team this was going to be a game of tempo,” said Rateau. “If [WAHS] could dictate the tempo and slow it down, then it was going to be to their benefit. If we could speed the tempo, it was going to be in our advantage.”Fluvanna was lead by Agee with 14 points and six rebounds. Harrison had 10 points, three assists and two rebounds. Dashun Tibbs had nine rebounds while Dorian Butler finished with four assists.
“It was a lot of contact today. Kind of use to it, giving ourselves trouble in practice. You just got to fight for the rebounds, you’ve got to have the will,” said Tibbs.
Western Albemarle was lead by Chase Stokes with 13 points and six rebounds. Sam Chisholm had 13 points and five rebounds. Jeremy Baroch has 11 rebounds with his six points.
The math for the Flucos (15-3, 5-2) to claim a third straight Jefferson District title is getting tight but still very well within reach. District frontrunner Monticello only has lost to FCHS but still has a game left against Western Albemarle and Fluvanna each. MHS also has two dates with Charlottesville remaining.
Western Albemarle has to play MHS, two against Powhatan and finish up at CHS.
“Our backs were against the wall and we rose to the occasion. That’s what I’m really proud of,” said Rateau.
The Flucos end the year with three road games including one within the county. They travel to Powhatan (Feb. 1), Louisa at Fluvanna Middle School (Feb. 5) and finish with Monticello (Feb. 6).