Big game experience key for Warriors as season opens

CROZET, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Coming off the best season in school history, including the school's first ever trip to the Class 3 state championship game, Western Albemarle lost plenty of firepower.

The Warriors lost four starters from that team, bringing back only junior Tommy Mangrum, but also bring back some key reserves on last season's state runner-up team.

"The big games we were in in big arenas, nothing we see this year should scare us once you've been through that," Warriors head coach Darren Maynard said. "I think that will make a big difference for us."

"I think that means more than just, playing normal games," Mangrum added. "Its just a different environment in those places and I think if you can handle that, you can handle anything else."

Western Albemarle finished the season 23-7, including three wins in the state tournament. Gabe Nafziger is one of five seniors on the Warriors this season, and was Western Albemarle's sixth man a year ago.

This year, he says while there are plenty of new faces on the Warriors bench, it might be a better collective team.

"I lot of new guys, but a lot of guys who have been in the program for a while. We know our stuff. We're a lot more team, instead of just a ton of individuals. Its gonna be a good season."

Western Albemarle opens the season at Harrisonburg Tuesday night. The Warriors open at home against Rockbridge County on Friday.