Jackson lifts Handley over Streaks
Posted: December 29, 2012
Special to The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — It’s a good thing for the Handley boys’ basketball team that junior center Cameron Jackson ate up Harrisonburg all night inside to cause the Blue Streaks a matchup nightmare.
Just a third of a group of scorers that the Judges have grown to count on, Jackson had to pick up his play even more after senior guard Jake Rudolph took an inadvertent elbow to the face late in the first half and was in street clothes in the second half, right beside fellow senior forward Darion Robinson, who is out indefinitely after rolling an ankle in practice this past week.
Without Rudolph, who suffered what is believed to be a fractured nose, Jackson took care of most of Handley’s production — putting in 25 points and grabbing 16 rebounds, many off the offensive glass — to lead the Judges to a 62-49 win over Harrisonburg Friday night in the Handley Holiday Tournament at Maddex-Omps Gymnasium.
“I knew I had to step up strong, just because Darion wasn’t here, and step up offensively and on the boards,” Jackson said. “I knew they couldn’t guard me, since they didn’t have anybody big [enough] on the inside.
“The season’s been going really well and playing AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) over the season helped me get some confidence. I feel like I’m doing whatever I can to help the team out right now.”
Limited already with a lack of height, the Blue Streaks (2-6) went into the game without top forward Nitahji Alford, who was benched for disciplinary reasons by first-year coach Scott Joyner.
Very active around the glass throughout, Jackson spent most of his time cleaning up teammates misses or scoring on dump downs.
Jackson balanced his production well, scoring 11 points to go with nine rebounds in the first half to lead Handley out to a 27-16 lead, and adding 14 points and seven rebounds in the second half to help the Judges (8-1) finally pull away.
“He did a good job off the offensive boards and he did a good job with being close to the basket where he could just catch and shoot,” Handley coach Tommy Dixon said. “Cameron’s got a nice jump shot, but he didn’t have to use that tonight. Overall, I thought he played well.”
A little better shooting from everyone else that dressed out, and the Judges might have been able to put the Blue Streaks away a little sooner than they did.
No one else — besides Jackson — had more than two made baskets for Handley.
While Jackson made 12 of 18 shots, the rest of the Judges were a combined 14 of 42 (33 percent) from the field. The Judges shot poorly (7 of 16, 44 percent) from the free-throw line, as well.
Junior point guard Tre Brown did a fantastic job with distribution (eight assists) and on defense (six steals), but he shot 2 of 9 from the floor.
Even Rudolph (six points) could not find his shot, and also went 2 for 9 from the field.
“I think [Rudolph] was pressing a little bit because I think he was trying to do a little bit more,” Dixon said. “He was trying to make things happen.”
Several subs (Ben Gloster and Daniel Gibson each had four points) helped out well when they got in, but it was hard for the Judges to have much of a good flow on offense, outside of the expected dominance Jackson had inside.
And though the Judges, who trailed just once (3-2) were never in any real danger of losing, they also know that the production must pick up game to game, regardless of who is on the floor.
“We controlled the game and that’s what we’d like to do all the time,” Dixon said. “But I think we just didn’t play with any enthusiasm and I don’t know [why] that is. Hopefully, we’ll be able to put a finger on it and make it work.”
The Blue Streaks were pretty much a one-player show, with senior guard Seth Kardos (25 points) scoring over half his team’s total on numerous hard drives to the basket.
Brian Rodriquez was next with eight points, and he got six of those late.
Harrisonburg shot just 34 percent (20 of 58) from the field in the loss.
“It’s been a struggle,” Joyner said. “Offensively, we’re not getting any balance. Then when we do create, we make wrong decisions.”
Whenever it looked like Harrisonburg might creep back, Jackson went on a mini-run. The Blue Streaks were down 11 early in the second half when Jackson scored six straight points.
He stuck back in a missed free throw from Will Dearing, scored ahead of Brown’s bounce pass in transition, and scored off a dump down with 4:10 left in the third period to get the lead back to 16.
In the early minutes of the fourth, Jackson again scored six straight points for Handley, getting his final points off a short jumper with 4:50 left to play.
He left for good with 4:11 left and the Judges up by 20.
Up next (weather permitting) is a game today (5 p.m.) with Spotswood, which crushed Amherst 93-43 in the earlier game on Friday.
Jackson is looking forward to the challenge.
“We just have to play together and get more on the boards and play strong defensively,” Jackson said. “I think we can play with Spotswood.”