Judges dominate on boards in victory
WINCHESTER – Handley coach Jason Toten wasn’t overly pleased with his team’s rebounding in the first half, so he made that one of his keys at halftime. His players listened and responded.
The Judges were able to dominate on the boards, especially in the second half, en route to a 53-31 boys basketball victory over Sherando on Wednesday in a Conference 21 West tournament semifinal. The Judges will host Millbrook in the tournament final on Thursday with a Region 4A West berth on the line.
“I thought we did a very good job of hitting the boards,” Toten said. “That first half I don’t think we did a great job of it. We left them get a few offensive rebounds. That was one of our keys coming out at halftime was don’t stand around and watch them, don’t let somebody else get the job done. And play with a purpose. I think we did a much better job of that in the second half.”
There were possessions for Handley where the Judges had four or five shots on one possession, keeping the Warriors from having a chance to score on offense.
Handley’s lead was only 24-18 at the half, despite Sherando having two five-minute scoring droughts.
The Warriors (14-10) led 6-2 to start the game, but then didn’t score for over five minutes and trailed 12-8 after the first period. Both teams shot 25 percent from the field in the opening period.
Sherando coach Garland Williams said if they could have had a couple more rebounds and putbacks things could have been different in the first half.
“The first half if we get a couple of those rebounds and putbacks we’re right in the game – the game’s tied,” Williams said. “We missed so many point blank shots.”
The Judges shot the ball a little better in the second period, while Sherando once again struggled. Handley built a 24-13 lead, but a 3-pointer by Alex Morefield and a layup by Jared Miller cut the lead to 24-18 at the half.
Handley came out strong in the third period with back-to-back 3-pointers by Michael Brown and Kevin Curry. Sherando answered with back-to-back 3-pointers by Miller and Morefield to cut the lead to 30-24 with 5:28 left in the third period, but that was the last point scored by the Warriors in the third period.
The Judges (14-7) only scored three points themselves, but on one possession to end the period they had six shots.
“You don’t have to be a dunker, but they all have good quick hops and just jump right over to get the rebound and keep the ball,” Williams said. “They got two, three, four, extra chances to shoot it. Not only is it tough in you not scoring, but it’s kind of demoralizing when you don’t get a chance to get the ball to score. They did a good job of that.”
The shots finally started to fall for Handley in the fourth period as the Judges pulled away. Handley’s Kobe Tigney scored a basket to start the final period, but a basket by Sherando’s Isaiah Armistead and two free throws by Azjier Outler cut the lead to 35-28 with 6:30 left in the game.
The Judges then went on a 14-1 run to put the game away. Handley made six of its first nine shots in the fourth period to pull out the victory. Handley won all three meetings between the two teams.
“They did a good job penetrating and kicking,” Williams said of Handley. “And the shooters knocked them down. … They have (Keevon) Martin that can shoot it, and you have Tigney who can shoot it, and you have (Gus) Wise that can shoot it. (Michael) Brown you leave him wide open he can shoot it. That’s been a tough combination for us to play all three games, because they have those type of guys.”
Tigney led the Judges with 13 points, while Wise added 10. Toten said that the Judges just need to worry about themselves and not who they are playing in the final.
“We tell our guys it doesn’t matter who we play,” Toten said. “We just got to come out and do own game plan. If we take care of what we’re supposed to do, hopefully we’ll come out on top.”
Miller and Morefield each had nine points to lead the Warriors.
Williams said that even though the season is over his young team had a solid season.
“All in all, as far as looking at where we thought we would finish right at the beginning compared to now, we thought we turned the corner a little bit,” Williams said. “We got 14 wins — fairly decent season — we’ll take that.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org