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BOYS BASKETBALL

Breen's big night propels Albemarle past Charlottesville

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Albemarle forward Jason Breen, left, dribbles the ball during a game against Charlottesville on Friday at Charlottesville High School.

Regardless of the year, regardless of the location, the Albemarle-Charlottesville boys basketball game is always a must-see event in the Jefferson District.

Friday’s edition was no different as both teams battled wire-to-wire for 40 minutes before the Patriots pulled away late for a 58-50 road victory.

Jason Breen had 18 points and 10 rebounds as the Patriots remained unbeaten against district foes.

“It’s always a great environment for this game,” Breen said. “The fans are always great and [Charlottesville] is always a tough team, but we came out played well, played hard and we fought. I was really proud of our guys.”

Albemarle (10-1, 4-0 Jefferson District) entered the game on a three-game winning streak and had been nothing short of dominant in the first month of the season. Charlottesville (4-5, 1-3), meanwhile, was forced to play shorthanded as several members of the team were out because of COVID-19 protocols.

Both teams came to play Friday night and put on a show. It was a back-and-forth affair in the opening eight minutes as both teams took turns trading buckets.

La’Mari Paler scored five points to lead Albemarle, while Luka Matic made his presence felt in the paint for Charlottesville as the Patriots held a 12-11 lead after one quarter.

The Black Knights carried the momentum they had built late in the first quarter over into the second as Matic found Aidan Yates open for a kick-out 3-pointer to give Charlottesville its first lead, 15-14 with 7:32 left in the half.

That’s when Breen found his rhythm. The senior forward scored 13 points in the quarter and went 3-of-4 from beyond the arc as Albemarle built a 36-29 lead at intermission.

“They were playing a zone and my teammates were driving and they were kicking [it out] to me and I was just getting open shots,” Breen said.

Charlottesville regrouped at halftime and came out motivated in the third quarter. Nasir Lindsay scored two quick buckets and Yates buried a 25-footer right in front of CHS Coach Mitch Minor to give the Black Knights a 39-38 lead with 3:44 left in the third quarter.

Albemarle once again regrouped, executing flawlessly on both ends of the floor. The Patriots closed the quarter on an 8-2 run, including a perfect 6-for-6 mark from the free-throw line, to retake the lead, 46-41 with one quarter to play.

The battle waged on in the fourth as Charlottesville mounted another rally. Yates buried a pair of tough jumpers and Sebastian Krebs added an eight-foot floater to trim the lead to 51-50 with 1:52 left.

Christian Humes put Albemarle up for good when he buried a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:13 left to give his team a two-possession lead.

“We were just trying to get a good shot to finish out the game,” Breen said. “We were just running our offense and I drove and Christian was open in the corner, so I kicked it to him.”

Charlottesville had several chances to answer, but Albemarle’s defense held the Black Knights scoreless for the final 1:52 of the game. Coach Greg Maynard’s team sealed the victory at the free-throw line with four straight points from the stripe in the final minute.

TaeVeon Wilson tallied 11 points and 11 rebounds to join Breen with a double-double for Albemarle. Parler added nine points in the victory, while Carter Wesson chipped in seven points and six rebounds.

Yates poured in 21 points to pace Charlottesville. Lindsay chipped in nine points and Matic finished with seven.

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