Handley boys rout Cougars, 74-53
Posted: December 12, 2012
Special to The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — To say the least, the Handley boys’ basketball team has a lot of options.
And when everyone is playing on the same page, the Judges can be downright dangerous.
A dynamite first quarter got Handley out to a nine-point lead, but what the Judges accomplished in the third quarter against Jefferson (W.Va.) on Tuesday night was not only crucial, but also impressive.
Handley scored the final 17 points of the third and extended the run to 23-0 with the first six points of the fourth quarter to roll on to a 74-53 non-district win over the Cougars at Maddex-Omps Gymnasium.
The Judges (4-1) had assists on 23 of 31 made baskets and shot 51.6 percent (31 of 60) from the field.
Three players reached double-digits in scoring — junior center Cameron Jackson scored a game-high 23 points, junior point guard Tre Brown scored 16, and senior guard Jake Rudolph added 15.
The other two starters, seniors Darion Robinson and Buster Wigley, were on the cusp, each scoring eight in the win.
“We did a good job of playing as a team tonight,” Handley coach Tommy Dixon said. “We shared the ball and we did a lot of things right. Defensively, we had probably one of our better games.”
Handley fell behind 5-2 early, but it did not take long for the Judges to take control of things.
Pushing the ball up and finding teammates for the best shot possible, the Judges scored 13 straight points and made a point of spotting the 6-foot-7 Jackson in close.
Jackson hit all five of his field goals in the first period and scored 10 points. Wigley also had a good touch early, making half of the Judges’ 3-pointers in the period, and Handley took a 24-15 lead to the second period.
Handley did hit a speed bump early on when Jackson picked up his second foul with 28 seconds left in the first period and would have to sit out the rest of the first half.
Given an opportunity to get back in the game, Jefferson (0-3) did. The Cougars started chipping away and got especially hot from the outside.
Handley had a 17-point lead at the 4:30 mark of the second period after Robinson worked inside for a stickback, but the shooting of sophomore Jalen Smith and senior Kalen Nehler helped Jefferson turn the game into a much more competitive contest.
Smith made two 3-pointers in the second period and four in the first half to score 12 of his 15 points and Nehler scored seven points during a 17-6 Jefferson run to close the first half.
A 3-pointer shot by Nehler (14 points) took a kind bounce and fell at the buzzer to cut Handley’s lead to 41-35 at the half.
While Handley shot 62 percent (18 of 29) from the field in the first half, Jefferson stayed close by nailing 7 of 11 attempts from behind the arc.
“They’re physical, and we needed that,” Dixon said. “We needed to get pushed around and they shot the ball better than I thought they would. When I [scouted] them earlier, they did not shoot as well, so they must have had an off night.”
The Cougars reeled off six straight points early in the third and trailed just 44-41 after two free throws from Nehler.
Jefferson had a chance to tie with a 3-pointer not long after, but Brown stepped in and took a steal the other way for a five-point lead.
The score off a turnover would start a big swing in Handley’s favor.
After Rudolph swung outside and drained a 3, Jackson scored the next six points.
After getting to the line and making two free throws off his offensive rebound, Jackson finished a quality possession for the Judges.
Brown again stepped in for a steal, hustling three-quarters court to run down the ball, toss it to Robinson, who missed a short jumper, only to have Jackson clean up for two.
Jackson also showed his hustle on the next play, taking his steal three-quarters court for a basket and 14-point lead with 3:24 left.
A basket by Brown off an outlet, another 3-pointer from Rudolph, and a free throw from Jackson closed off the run in the third and sent Handley to the fourth with a 61-41 lead.
Coming off a 25-point loss at Washington (W.Va.) on Saturday, Brown said the Judges were eager to have a strong bounce-back game.
“After that loss to Washington, we all knew we had to work harder,” said Brown, who added eight assists and a game-high five steals in the win. “We just went out and did what we needed to do to be successful.
“We just knew [in the third period] that we had to go. They’re a good team, so we just tried to push ourselves. Once we pushed ourselves, there was no stopping us.”
Handley led by as much as 28 in the final minutes, as a transition basket by Jackson made it 72-44 with 2:44 left.
The Judges outrebounded the Cougars 32-24, getting 10 boards apiece from Jackson and Robinson.
Robinson also led in assists (nine) and blocks (three), but it was the play of Brown that had Dixon quite pleased afterward.
“He did a good job of getting the ball to the people where they needed it,” Brown said. “He ran us some set plays and it seemed to work for us. Everything was clicking for us tonight.”