MINERAL—Three-point shooting and up-tempo offense are two trademarks of the Louisa County boys basketball team.
But on Tuesday night, defense took center stage in the Lions’ 48–46 victory over Albemarle to secure the program’s first Jefferson District tournament championship.
Up by two with 20.4 seconds left, Albemarle had two chances on the final possession, but was unable to get a shot to fall. Mark Carter got a piece of Dasaun Taylor’s layup attempt. Albemarle’s Myles Ward grabbed the rebound and with two defenders converging on him kicked it out to Josh Morse, who was open at the top of the key. Jarett Hunter had a great closeout on the shot, which bounced off the rim. Xavien Hunter rebounded it to end the Patriots’ run of two straight district titles.
Jarett Hunter scored 14 points and Chris Shelton added 12 as the Lions avenged last year’s loss to Albemarle in the final on their home court.
It was all Louisa (21–4) early. The Lions scored the first seven points of the game, including a steal and dunk from Chris Shelton for a 7–0 lead three minutes into the game.
Albemarle settled down and grinded its way back into the game. The Patriots went on a 13–5 run, including a layup from Justin Murkey to take a 13–12 lead with five minutes left in the half.
Jarett Hunter responded with back-to-back buckets and Isaac Haywood added a put back and the Lions led 21–15 at intermission.
The Patriots continued their comeback in the third quarter, sparked by Derrick Jones Jr. The junior guard drained a long 3-pointer from the left wing to trim the lead to 33–31. On the ensuing possession, he stepped in front of a bounce pass and finished with a dunk to tie the game at 33 with 1:48 left in the quarter
Shylek Washington hit a jumper in the lane and Hunter added a pair of free throws to give Louisa a 37–35 lead with one quarter to play.
In the fourth, Xavien Hunter converted a three-point play to give Louisa a 46–42 advantage with 2:15 to play.
Albemarle didn’t go away quietly as Ward scored a pair of buckets on offensive rebounds to pull his team within a bucket.
Ward finished with 14 points, including 12 in the second half to lead the Patriots’ comeback. Jones poured in 13 points and Chris Cox added 10 more.
Albemarle (19–6) will host Orange Friday in a Region 5D first-round game. Louisa earned a first-round bye in the Region 4B tournament and will host a semifinal game Wednesday, Feb. 20.