Seniors come up big as Handley boys top Wood, 90-78
Posted: February 9, 2013
WINCHESTER — The 3-point shot that helped James Wood battle back into Friday night’s Northwestern District game against Handley proved to be exactly what took them out of it.
Handley senior Jacob Rudolph hit three consecutive 3-pointers to start the fourth quarter, and senior Darion Robinson led four Judges in double figures with 23 points and a career-best 22 rebounds in a 90-78 win over the Colonels in front of a capacity crowd at Maddex-Omps Gymnasium.
Robinson made his final regular season home game a memorable one on Senior Night, and classmate Buster Wigley added 17 points.
“I think Senior Night really exploded with Buster dropping how many in the first half?” Robinson asked Wigley as he put his arm around him outside of the Judges’ locker room. “Fifteen — that caught us all by surprise but that really gave us energy for the second half.”
The Colonels (9-13, 1-7) erased a nine-point deficit at the half by going 6 for 8 from 3-point range in a 28-point third quarter that tied the game at 63 heading into the fourth quarter.
But the Colonels’ hot hand from 3-point range faded away in the fourth quarter (going just 1 for 10) once the Judges (16-4, 6-2) switched from man-to-man defense to a 1-3-1 extended zone.
And while the Colonels struggled to get much going offensively in the fourth quarter, Rudolph nailed three straight 3-pointers, igniting a 13-2 run by the Judges to start the fourth quarter.
Rudolph, who went to the locker room with a hand injury with 2:31 left in the second quarter, returned with his left thumb and wrist wrapped to start the second half and he was scoreless through three quarters.
But the Handley senior’s third consecutive three to open the fourth quarter put Handley ahead 72-65 with 6:10 remaining.
Junior center Cameron Jackson, who sat out over seven minutes of the third after picking up his third personal foul, capped the 13-2 run with a layup to stretch Handley’s lead to 78-65 with 3:25 left.
James Wood coach Al Smith said Rudolph’s 3-pointers really gave the Judges a big boost to start the fourth quarter.
“That little stretch of about 45 seconds there in the fourth when Jacob knocked down those three 3’s — it was a momentum killer for us,” Smith said. “At the same time I thought we were able to come back and knock down a shot even down 10 late I thought we had a good opportunity to win the game at the end. I really thought our effort was outstanding but I thought we didn’t take advantage of our opportunities to knock down some shots.”
Jackson, who scored 14 points and had 12 rebounds and four blocks, scored eight in the final quarter, helping the Judges maintain a 10-point advantage the rest of the way.
While Jackson controlled the paint, Robinson and Solomon Finley made some big time plays in the fourth quarter.
Robinson came up with a defensive rebound on one end, dribbled the length of the floor for a layup to give Handley an 82-65 advantage with just under three minutes to play.
Finley, who provided a big spark off the bench (scoring 20 points) with his quickness and athleticism, capped the Judges’ huge fourth quarter with a steal and dunk to put Handley ahead 88-76 with just 40 seconds left.
Judges coach Tommy Dixon thought his team performed well when it needed to in the fourth quarter.
“We changed defenses and I thought that helped us and we got on the boards a little bit better,” said Handley coach Tommy Dixon. “We just slowed them down a little bit [with the extended 1-3-1].
“[James Wood] plays hard and I take my hat off to coach [Al] Smith and his team. They play aggressive and that system works for them.”
Handley never trailed after James Wood hit the opening bucket of the contest, and a big part of the reason why the Colonels were playing catch-up most of the night was Wigley’s play in the first half.
He hit his first five shots (including a 3-pointer) from the floor and his 15 first-half points helped Handley take a 44-35 lead at the break.
The Judges honored their eight seniors — Rudolph, Robinson, Wigley, Ryan Coyne, Ben Gloster, Brennan Banks, Daniel Gibson and Billy Jenkins — before the game and Robinson, Wigley and Rudolph — the Judges three senior starters — combined for 49 points.
“It was a dream come true for me,” said Wigley of his big first half and 17-point performance. “We needed that in the first half just to get us going.
“I felt like whoever was in was contributing but I just wish we could have done better to get all of the seniors more playing time because that would have made a better Senior Night for everybody.”
Dixon said the seniors stepped up well in key moments throughout the contest.
“Buster started off real well and Jake pulled us out with those three big threes,” Dixon said. “Darion did a great job on the boards. It’s pleasing to see your seniors go out with a win and hopefully they enjoyed tonight.”
Junior Ryland Williams led four Colonels in double figures with 16 points, including three 3-pointers. Cam Butler added 15, Nick Goode scored 13 and Peyton Crickman finished with 12. James Wood finished 10 of 32 (31 percent) from 3-point range (but six of those came in the third quarter).
The Colonels will now face Skyline in the district tournament play-in game at Millbrook at 7 p.m. on Monday. Skyline and the Colonels are currently tied for fourth heading into today’s Skyline-Millbrook game.
The second-seeded Judges will now face No. 3 Millbrook in the district tournament semifinals on Wednesday at Millbrook.
“We need to really be focused in the tournament because it’s one loss and you’re out,” Robinson said. “We need to have focus and energy [Wednesday night].”
— Contact Robert Stocks at email@example.com
Follow on Twitter @WinStarSports1