Handley boys beat Fluvanna, 82-69
WINCHESTER — Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but the Handley boys’ basketball team showed Tuesday night that it’s pretty good heated up as well.
Behind a scorching-hot start by senior Jacob Rudolph and a dominating third quarter, the Judges exacted a little payback on Fluvanna County with an 82-69 win in the Region II, Division 3 quarterfinals.
Rudolph went 5 for 5 from beyond the 3-point line in the first eight minutes and Handley (19-4) outscored the Flyin’ Flucos 25-13 in the third quarter to pull away for good.
The Judges will next travel to face top-seeded Western Albemarle in the Region II, Division 3 semifinals on Thursday.
Fluvanna County defeated Handley in the region finals last season in a hotly contested game at the now-retired “Shoe Box” and that loss had not been forgotten by the Judges.
“That [loss to Fluvanna] has been on my mind for a year now and I never go a day without thinking about it,” said Rudolph, who finished with a team-high 24 points, including six 3-pointers. “Especially being a senior this year, I just wanted to come out here and not let my team lose. I definitely had a chip on my shoulder, I did not want to lose this game.”
That was clear from the outset as Rudolph came out on fire.
Senior Darion Robinson scored the first basket of the game but it was all Rudolph from there.
With point guard Tre Brown feeding him time after time, the senior sharp-shooter hit from the left side, the right side and everywhere in between, including one from the top of the arc where he pump-faked, let his defender fly by him and then buried the 3-pointer.
By the time the first quarter had finished Rudolph had 15 of the Judges’ 24 points and the lead was six.
“After that first one fell I was feeling it, so I was just letting them go,” Rudolph said. “I love playing with Tre Brown, he always gets me the ball where I want it and hand down, man down is what I always say. If they don’t come out I’m going to shoot it, no matter where I am.”
But as hot as Rudolph and the Judges were, the Flucos refused to go away and, behind the equally hot hand of sophomore Vincent Agee (game-high 34 points, 23 of which came in the first half), Fluvanna fought back in the second quarter.
Agee scored and was fouled for a three-point play to cut the lead to three and a 9-for-10 performance from the free-throw line allowed the Flucos to head into halftime only down 40-39.
“We dug a hole so deep in the first quarter that I didn’t know if we were going to come out, but our kids have fought like that all year and we knew we just needed to make some shots,” said Fluvanna coach Munro Rateau about his team withstanding Handley’s early run. “But then in that third quarter we let it get away from us a little bit.”
With Robinson on the bench in foul trouble and Rudolph quieted by a switch to a box-and-one by the Fluvanna defense, 6-foot-8 junior Cameron Jackson and sixth-man Solomon Finley took over for the Judges coming out of halftime.
Jackson (double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds) converted a three-point play and then hit a short jumper in the lane to start the quarter, Finley (16 points) made the Flucos pay for leaving him unguarded on the perimeter with two 3-pointers and by the time Robinson sailed in for a layup off a steal, Handley had built a 65-52 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“I just felt that third quarter we came out and rebounded the ball better, we hit the open man and we made some big shots,” said Handley coach Tommy Dixon.
Dixon also praised the defense of Brown (four points and eight assists), who took over the job of covering Agee in the second half and limited the sophomore to 5-of-14 shooting over the third and fourth quarters.
“Tre’s been our defender all year long and he takes pride in what he does on the defensive end,” Dixon said. “He made [Agee] work to get the ball and that helped, because earlier in the game he was just catching and shooting and I think Tre made him work hard to get it [in the second half].”
A fifth foul on Robinson (10 points and five rebounds) and a 6-0 run by the Flucos made things interesting in the fourth quarter, but senior Buster Wigley and Rudolph hit from deep to keep Handley’s lead at double digits and Jackson grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds off missed free throws to seal the victory.
For the game the Judges shot 49 percent (31 of 63) from the field and 56 percent (9 of 16) from 3-point land. The Flucos finished 24 for 56 (43 percent) in the loss.
-- Contact Kevin Trudgeon at email@example.comFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1