Forward Leads Pats to Success
March 9, 2015
With under four minutes left in the Feb. 6 rivalry game Western was pulling away. It was an even battle throughout the first half, but the Warriors controlled most of the second.
Then came sophomore Austin Katstra.
Albemarle sprinted back on defense while the Crozet-based team tossed the ball down the court, looking to catch the Patriots off-guard. Instead, they caught a glimpse of what the 6-foot-6, 195 pound forward could do.
The basketball phenom slapped the ball from the air, setting himself up for a thunderous fast-break. With one man to beat, Katstra stepped past him and launched his colossal body towards the hoop. A silence fell as the crowd collectively held its breath. Patriots anticipated a Jordan-esque finish to turn the tables against the Warriors.
The sudden uproar caused ears to pop, girls to squeal and Warriors to gasp.
The Patriots were back! The momentum shifted and AHS tied it up at 48 to end regulation.
Western would dominate overtime, leaving Patriots heartbroken after a second loss to their cross-county rivals on the season, but Katstra’s regulation-saving dunk made the game more bearable.
The next two seasons with Katstra and fellow sophomore Jake Hahn are hopeful. Both sophomores had breakout seasons last year and performed well.
After making a name for himself last season, Katstra worked with some teammates and a former UVa basketball star to improve his game for this season.
Over the summer Katstra didn’t care about dunking; he could already do that. But what former UVa guard Sean Singletary did teach him was ball handling. As a forward Katstra plays most of the time down low, typically in a jumble of about six players. Being able to handle the ball in this mess allows him to get closer to the basket and ultimately score more points.
“I worked out a lot with Jake and [junior Kennedy Brown],” Katstra said. “And we’d go in every week to a gym and play against each other and do some ball-handling drills.”
“[Singletary] was a guard, so he got me a lot better at ball handling. I’ve gotten better at that this year, I’ve been able to go out to the perimeter more,” Katstra said.
Although Katstra has greatly improved his ball handling skills he still has things he needs to work on.
“[My biggest weakness is] driving into the lane and pulling up and shooting the mid-range- jumpshot. I think I could get better at doing that. And then improve my variety of post moves. I only have a few moves that I’m really good at so over the offseason I’ll work on that,” Katstra said.
Katstra continues to improve through hard work and conditioning, but first the Patriots have to focus on the Jefferson District tournament. Albemarle defeated Western 66-44 on Feb. 10 in the semifinals and will move on to play Feb. 13 against Charlottesville in the Jefferson District Championship.