Handley boys rout Skyline
WINCHESTER — If controlling the line of scrimmage and commanding the inner half of the plate are the keys to success in football and baseball, respectively, dominating in the paint is the driving force in basketball.
Anyone needing an explanation needs only to watch the film of the Handley boys’ basketball team against Skyline Tuesday night.
Taking on a squad that entered Maddex-Omps Gymnasium with an impressive 11-1 record to its name, the Judges showed off just how big and powerful their starting front line can be.
Between the two of them 6-foot-8 junior Cameron Jackson and 6-foot-5 senior Darion Robinson combined for 41 points and 25 rebounds to lead the charge in a 67-42 rout of the visiting Hawks.
That his two big guys are capable of such an output isn’t news to Handley coach Tommy Dixon, although that didn’t stop him from cracking a smile when asked about it after the game.
“We did some things a lot better tonight,” Dixon said. “I think we had a little bit more intensity, which is something we’ve been working on, and we had better execution.
“We hadn’t executed the way we’ve wanted to and I think finally we’re starting to get the ball down to the big men and the big guys are coming through for us.”
That certainly was the case Tuesday night when the duo of Jackson and Robinson nearly outscored and outrebounded Skyline by themselves.
It started with a baby hook from Jackson off the left block for the first basket of the game, was followed by a free throw from Robinson after being fouled on a drive to the basket and before they knew the Hawks were getting buried by a series of follows, putbacks, turnarounds and short jumpers.
In the third quarter alone the two combined for 16 of the Judges’ 20 points (they each had an assist to help account for the other two baskets) and helped Handley extend a 12-point halftime lead to a 52-31 advantage.
“Coach always says we’re the two best big men in the district as long as we play like we’re capable of playing,” said Robinson, who finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and a team-high seven steals.
“It’s an amazing feeling when you can dominate inside, it just opens up the outside for guys like Jake [Rudolph], Buster [Wigley] and even Ryan [Coyne] who can shoot really well. It makes everything easier.”
Handley (10-2, 2-0 Northwestern District) was without the services of Rudolph, who was sitting out after having surgery to repair a broken nose suffered earlier in the season, but they had plenty of other guys step up in his absence.
With Jackson and Robinson wreaking havoc down low, Wigley (6 points), junior Jason Morgan (9 points) and sophomore KeSean Robinson (6 points) were the beneficiaries of all the extra attention being paid to them.
“It opens things up for the other guys,” said Dixon about the benefits of having a dominant inside game. “Once we establish some things inside then Jason and Buster were able to his some outside jumpers simply because they had to double down and we were smart enough to get the ball to them.”
It happened during a key 12-2 run to close the first half when Darion Robinson blocked a shot and then fired an outlet pass to younger brother KeSean for an easy layup and then Jackson passed out of a double team to a wide open Morgan for a 3-pointer to put the Judges up 32-20 heading into halftime.
Any hopes of a Skyline (11-2, 0-1) comeback in the second half were squashed quickly when Handley came out in a full-court trapping defense that caused problems for the Hawks throughout the third quarter.
By the time Jackson followed up a Robinson miss with an offensive rebound and putback to make it 52-30 with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter, the game was all but over.
“Tonight we definitely played together, we looked for each other and we knew once we got the ball that they couldn’t do anything [to stop us],” said Jackson, who finished 13 of 15 for 26 points and 15 rebounds. “I think we can play like that every night, but I definitely think we played better tonight that we have in previous games.”
For the game the Judges shot 48 percent from the field (29 for 60), forced 19 turnovers and held Skyline to just 31-percent shooting (15 for 49) in the victory.
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