Handley beats GW-Danville for 4A North Region boys' basketball title

Posted: March 1, 2014

By ROBERT NIEDZWIECKI

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — The Handley boys’ basketball team won its second straight region title by using a strong fourth-quarter surge to defeat George Washington-Danville 66-59 in the 4A North Region final Saturday at Maddex-Omps Gymnasium.
The Judges (20-2) will now play 4A South Region runner-up Glen Allen in the Group 4A state semifinals at James Madison University, which will be the Judges first state semifinal since 2000. GW-Danville (25-4) will play I.C. Norcom, which beat Glen Allen in the 4A South Region final Friday, at Old Dominion University in the other state semifinal.  The dates have not been determined yet for either game, but they will take place sometime between Wednesday and Saturday, March 8.
Handley fell behind for the first time all night when George Washington’s Kwamel Beck scored on a fastbreak layup with 7:12 remaining to make it 43-42 Eagles. But the Judges responded with a 10-0 run that was keyed by seven points from senior guard Solomon Finley (game-high 23 points, to go along with eight rebounds) to take a 52-43 lead, and the Judges held that lead for good.
George Washington continued to battle and got as close as 62-59 on a 3-pointer by Jamarcus Hairston with 53 seconds left.
But Cameron Jackson (15 points, 10 rebounds, eight blocks) responded with two free throws — part of a stretch that saw Handley make 13 of 15 free throws after hitting 4 of its first 14 through the game’s opening 26 minutes — and the Eagles missed 3 3-pointers in the last 50 seconds.  
It took everything that George Washington had to make it a game, because Handley came out blazing.
The Judges scored 10 points in the first two minutes to take a 10-2 lead, and hit 8 of 13 shots in the first quarter to extend its advantage to 21-9 after one quarter (KeSean Robinson scored nine of his 15 points in the first eight minutes). The Judges took their biggest lead of the game on a jumper from Finley that made it 25-9 with 6:16 left in the second quarter.
That start went a long way toward setting the tone for a successful night that ended with Handley posing for photos with the region championship trophy, then celebrating with its fans.
For the Judges — who beat Loudoun Valley on the road in last year’s region final win — the fact that this year’s region final win came at home made it extra special. Handley also completed a perfect 12-0 season at home with the win.
“I’m really proud of the kids,” said Handley first-year head coach Jason Toton. “They bought into what we’ve been asking them to do. I talked [Saturday] about T.E.A.M. — Together, Everyone Achieves More — and we’re starting to do a very good job [of being a team].”

For full details, see Monday's edition of The Winchester Star.

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at
rniedzwiecki@winchesterstar.com
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