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Albemarle outlasts Culpeper in opener

Albemarle outlasts Culpeper in opener

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Culpeper’s DaiJordan Brown (10) is guarded up the floor by Albemarle’s J’Quan Anderson (23) in Monday night’s game at Culpeper County High School.

CULPEPER — It was the moment they all had waited for.

But nothing really went as planned in Monday night’s Culpeper-Albemarle boys basketball season opener. The Patriots (1-0) opened up a 17-point first half lead and fended back a second half Culpeper run for a 68-59 victory.

Monday’s contest got off to an auspicious start. Culpeper’s Chris Simmons was given a technical before the opening tip for dunking during warm ups. Albemarle opened with a 2-0 lead before a second ticked off of the clock.

“That right there set the tone,” Culpeper head coach James Thompson said. “To me that was just a lack of focus. We’re not good enough to give points away.

Albemarle opened the game on an 8-0 run before Culpeper’s Elijah Nelson (15 points) drained two free throws to get the Blue Devils (0-1) on the board.

Albemarle’s hot start didn’t end there. Maxx Jarmon (team-high 17 points) scored eight first-quarter points to help the Patriots gain a 14-2 advantage. Culpeper’s first bucket from the floor didn’t come until there was 4:42 remaining in the quarter.

A late run at the end of the first stanza helped the Blue Devils cut the deficit to six, but again it was Albemarle that opened with a hot second quarter. An 8-0 spurt helped the Patriots nearly double their lead. Albemarle went into halftime with a 42-27 advantage.

“I told them at halftime that this game isn’t over,” Albemarle head coach Greg Maynard said. “They can score really quick and have some really good players.”

Maynard’s prediction held true. Culpeper, running a full-court press defense, started forcing turnovers and transitioned them into easy looks. With 2:48 remaining in the third quarter, the Blue Devils only trailed 44-42.

“They started playing a lot better offensively. They started penetrating, making the passes inside and finishing,” Maynard said. “I was real proud of my kids — when they did get it down to two or three — we responded and finally hit a few shots to get a gap.”

The Patriots only scored six points in the third quarter but exploded for 20 in the fourth. The group limited turnovers and began breaking Culpeper’s press with ease for points.

“What got me is the turnovers weren’t from their pressure,” Thompson said. “We were getting rebounds and going down court and just throwing it to the opponent. That’s what really irked me.”

Jarmon was the team’s leading scorer, but point guard J’Quan Anderson controlled the pace of the game. Anderson finished with 13 points and a fan in Thompson.

“We couldn’t press him,” Thompson said. “He couldn’t be rushed. He had a good night. He’s played in the Final Four; Albemarle has advanced to the Final Four in the state. Nothing was going to rattle him tonight.”

Albemarle hosts Patrick Henry (Roanoke) on Friday.

Chris Cappella is sports editor at The Star-Exponent. Contact him at (540) 825-0771 ext. 166, or @C_Cappella and @CSEpreps on Twitter.

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