Handley boys deal Warriors 1st district loss
Posted: February 6, 2013
WINCHESTER — The last time they met, the smaller Sherando boys’ basketball did an excellent job pushing the pace in beating Handley in Stephens City on Jan. 15.
But with 6-foot-5 Demontay Harrison no longer with the team, the Warriors are now even smaller. And with Handley junior guard Solomon Finley — who was unavailable to the Judges until Jan. 26 — now in the mix, Handley is even quicker.
So while Tuesday’s 82-72 loss to the Judges didn’t change the fact that the Warriors are the Northwestern District regular season champions, adjustments might have to be made if Sherando sees the Judges in the district tournament.
The 6-foot-8 Cameron Jackson (21 points, 15 rebounds, seven blocks) helped Handley have its way on the boards (50-34), and the speedy Finley poured in a career-high 22 points off the bench in just his fourth game of the season, all Handley wins.
More than anything else though, Handley coach Tommy Dixon said effort was the biggest factor in helping the Judges (15-4, 5-2 Northwestern District) win their third straight game and hand Sherando (14-6, 7-1) just its second loss in 14 games.
“We competed a little bit more than we did last time,” Dixon said. “I don’t think we competed hard at all that night. A lot of it was because of what they were doing, and they competed very well tonight.
“We had a few more bodies out there than they did, and I think that’s what it boiled down to.”
At the end of the third quarter, the big body of Jackson and quick one of Finley helped the Judges get the separation they needed to eventually get the win.
With the score 53-51, the Judges embarked on a 9-0 run that was started by an assist by Finley to Jackson with 1:55 left.
Finley followed with a putback to make it 57-51, Jackson fired a perfect cross-court pass to Jake Rudolph (12 points) for a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 60-51, and hard-working Will Dearing (12 points, 8 of 10 free throws) knocked down two free throws with five seconds left to make it 62-51 heading into the fourth quarter.
Sherando wouldn’t go away, but the Warriors could get no closer than eight points the rest of the way.
The Warriors — who got a career-high 20 points from Isaiah Williams — were forced to make do at the end of the third quarter without both Aaron Miller (20 points) and Tanner Ruths (14 points), who had each picked up their third foul.
“Anytime you get a team’s best players in foul trouble, you want to take advantage, and we did that tonight,” Finley said.
Finley took advantage of every minute he was on the floor Tuesday. Williams said the end of the third quarter was a damaging stretch. But having to account for Finley for the entire night was one of the things he felt made a big difference.
“He did a lot of things in there we didn’t see last game,” Williams said. “We knew he could do it, but all the sudden when he’s on the court doing it, it’s a different story.”
Finley said he’s just glad to add whatever he can to the team, especially because of how well the Judges were playing before his arrival. Obviously, having Jackson in the middle has given Handley a leg up on opponents all season.
Dixon felt the Judges probably should have exploited their size advantage even more than they did Tuesday, but when Jackson wasn’t scoring on putbacks he was allowing his teammates to score on some putbacks of their own because of all the attention he was receiving.
The Judges had a 17-7 rebounding edge in third quarter that saw them outscore Sherando 27-19.
“They lost their big man [Harrison], so I knew I could take advantage [inside],” Jackson said. “Them doubling me on rebounds helped out tonight.
“This win is big. I think we definitely let them know we weren’t going away easy.”
Dixon — who credited Ryan Coyne for playing some big minutes for Tre Brown when he was in foul trouble, and Dearing for his overall effort — said Handley can’t rest on Friday’s victory by any means, however.
“We still have to play better, and I think we’re capable of playing much better,” Dixon said.
As for Sherando, Williams credited his team for constantly battling back against a Judges team that led most of the way.
But he thought his team (27-of-63 shooting) missed some good shot opportunities it needed to make.
“[We] put up a good fight,” Williams said. “We’ve just got to work for the next game.”
— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at email@example.comFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1