Judges boys beat Millbrook 69-54 to advance to final
Posted: February 14, 2013
Special to The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER —High school teams don’t have the opportunity to pass around a stat sheet at halftime.
If they did, Handley senior forward Darion Robinson might have grimaced if he had any idea what his totals after two periods were against Millbrook on Wednesday night.
Robinson had more technical fouls (one) than he did points (zero).
It wasn’t only Robinson that had a hard time playing up to his potential. The Judges gave up 29 points in the second period to the Pioneers in a Northwestern District boys’ basketball semifinal game at Casey Gymnasium and trailed 39-33 at the break.
But Handley still had two more quarters to get it right. And, boy, did the Judges do just that.
The Judges were an entirely different team on defense in the second half, holding the Pioneers to 15 points and enjoying a 21-point swing over the last two periods to rally back for a 69-54 win and a spot in the district final on Friday.
Handley (17-4) will face James Wood (11-13), which upset regular-season champion Sherando 82-68 earlier Wednesday, at 7 p.m. at Millbrook.
Handley could not help but play with more purpose after it constantly let a usually cold-shooting 3-point team bury five shots from behind the arc in the second period. Millbrook (12-10) trailed 13-4 late in the first period, but a trio of made 3s by senior guard Rze Culbreath (19 points) and two from sophomore reserve guard Zach Harrell propelled Millbrook to its six-point lead at the half.
Within seconds of the start of the third period, the momentum began to shift back to the Judges.
Getting himself free a lot better, Robinson scored a pair of layups in the first 69 seconds.
Millbrook was still in control for a time, leading 44-39 after senior forward Eddie Trexler got a stick back to fall with 5:29 left.
Just 13 seconds later, Handley senior guard Buster Wigley also got open and hit a 3-pointer.
Not only did the made basket kick-start a huge run for the Judges, but it also got Wigley off to another hot stretch for himself.
With Wigley’s shot starting things, Handley proceeded to run off a 14-0 run to move out to a nine-point lead by the 1:47 mark of the third period.
Wigley had five points in the crucial stretch and Robinson added four, including his follow shot to make it 53-44 to cap the run with under two minutes left.
Millbrook did not come out with the same fire that had led to it playing so well in the second quarter. In fact, Millbrook coach Scott Mankins was alarmed by what he saw from his team at the half.
“The kids were celebrating at halftime,” Mankins said. “I barked at them as soon as I walked into the locker room ‘The only team that celebrates at halftime is the losing team.’ We hit more 3s in that half than we have in any game this season. That’s not our game.
“We addressed things at halftime about going to what we do well, and in the second half we didn’t do what we spent two days [going over] in practice. We let Handley get the shots they wanted to get and we had more turnovers [actually, it was even, at 15] than points in the second half.”
Handley outscored Millbrook 22-11 in the third period.
“It was our intensity [that picked up],” Robinson said. “When we were in the locker room at halftime you could kind of see on everybody’s faces that it just wasn’t there. In the second half, we kind of saw our goals. We knew that we wanted [to win].
“I think our intensity just amplified.”
In the third period, Millbrook had nine turnovers. It would finish the game with 21, including 15 in the second half.
“We rebounded the ball well in the third quarter, we got out and trapped and did some things, and we picked up a lot of loose balls,” Handley coach Tommy Dixon said. “There was a lot more effort in that third quarter.”
If the Judges had turned things around in the third, they were lock-down in the fourth.
Millbrook was down just 55-50 heading to the final eight minutes, but the Pioneers lost any chance of a comeback by having the worst possible time to go into a slump.
The Pioneers scored just four points and the Judges gradually pulled away to win.
Senior guard Jake Rudolph knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and Wigley had one more left in him, providing the game’s final points with his trey at the 1:47 mark for a 15-point lead.
Wigley hit 5 of 6 shots in the second half (including two 3-pointers) and scored 12 of his 14 points after the break.
“I’m just the beneficiary of great point guard play from Tre [Brown], and everyone else was knocking down shots and we’re really starting to click,” Wigley said. “Now that we’re in the postseason, it’s a good thing to see.”
The Judges had plenty of contributions to go around. Rudolph led with 16 points, Wigley had 14, Robinson scored all 11 of his in the second half, and junior center Cameron Jackson had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Robinson said it was fun to get a little payback after the Pioneers rallied to win by seven on the Judges’ home floor the last time the two teams played.
“It definitely felt like they stole one from us last time, so for us to get this one was huge,” Robinson said. “We definitely owed them.”
Culbreath was the only Pioneer to reach double-digit scoring. Cody Brooks was next with seven.
“We’re not going to beat anyone on talent,” Mankins said. “We’ve got to play harder than the opponent , and in the fourth quarter we didn’t do that. We let up.”