Balancing act: Lawler, Dowrey propel Judges

By Tommy Keeler Jr. – tkeeler@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER — One of Handley coach Tommy Dixon’s goals for his team this season is to have a strong inside and outside game.

The Judges showed they are getting closer to reaching that goal Saturday with a 74-67 win over Skyline in Northwestern District action.

“Sooner or later, I believe we’ll be able to have a pretty good inside game and a pretty good outside game,” Dixon said. “I think that’s starting to come together.”

Derek Dowrey helped give the Judges a solid lift inside, while sharp-shooter Robbie Lawler took care of things from the perimeter in the win over the Hawks. The two combined for 40 points in the victory.

Skyline came out strong and built an early 18-15 lead, aided by solid shooting from beyond the arc. The Hawks hit three 3-pointers in the first period and finished with 10 for the game.

Lawler scored nine of his 19 points in the second period to help the Judges take a 32-29 lead at halftime. The junior suffered a cut on his face early in the third period and had to leave the game only 30 seconds into the second half. He returned late in the third period, but by that time his teammates had started to pull away from the Hawks.

Delroy McDaniel scored four points during an 11-5 run to give Handley a 43-34 lead late in the third period.

“We were just really passive on defense,” Skyline coach Sonny Dyke said. “I think we played well offensively, but I was very disappointed with how we played defense.”

The Hawks battled back. Two 3-pointers by Eli McEathron helped cut the lead to 46-42 entering the fourth quarter.

With the game still close in the final five minutes, Dowrey took over for Handley. The junior scored 10 of his game-high 21 points during the final period.

“I knew somebody had to step up,” Dowrey said. “We have a lot of great athletes on this team.

“On any night anybody can step up. I knew somebody was going to step up and tonight it just happened to be me.”

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Zach Henry cut the Judges lead to 59-56 with 3:32 left in the game, but that would be as close as the Hawks would get.

Dowrey responded with a conventional three-point play and two free throws by Carl Hall pushed the lead back to eight with 2:19 remaining.

The Hawks had four players in double figures in scoring. Cameron Taylor led the way with 17 points, followed by Ryan Dyke (13), and Henry and McEathron (12 each).

The loss drops the Hawks into fourth place in the district with four games left.

“The good news is we have four home games coming up in a row,” Sonny Dyke said. “We did put up 67 points tonight. Offensively, we did a lot of good things.”

Kyle Murph added 13 points for the Judges, who are tied with Sherando in the loss column for second in the district.

Handley got off to a slow start this season due to the football team advancing to the Group AA, Division 3 state semifinals. Dixon said his team is still trying to play catch-up from the slow start.

“We have a ways to go,” Dixon said. “We’re still not where we want to be right now. The kids are working hard and they’re trying. But things just haven’t clicked for us yet.”