Handley boys close out regular season with win over James Wood

WINCHESTER — Friday’s regular-season finale had no impact on the future for the Handley boys’ basketball team.

The Judges already knew their seeding, their opponent, site and time in the coming Region 4D playoffs.

But that knowledge didn’t mean Handley wanted to take the night off, especially against a local rival. Fueled by 29 points from freshman Will Braun-Duin, the Judges led from start to finish in a 78-57 triumph over James Wood at Shirley Gymnasium.

Second-seeded Handley (17-5) polished off its regular season with victories over Millbrook, Sherando and the Colonels and will host the Warriors (15-7) at 7:30 p.m. next Friday in the Region 4D quarterfinals at Maddex-Omps Gymnasium. Handley (7-1 record) is also the Class 4 Northwestern District champion.

“The message to the team was, ‘Do you finish the year 17-5 or 16-6? Do you want to go into the postseason on a loss or with three straight wins against your rivals?,” Handley coach Zach Harrell-Zook said. “Wood is always going to play hard and compete and they had a good, senior-loaded team this year. … The message was, ‘Treat tonight like win or go home because the next one you play is.”

“We took care of business,” said Braun-Duin, who scored all of his points in the first three quarters. “We beat all three of them. We’re rolling in and we’ve got another one of them on Friday. We’re not here to prove we’re one of the best teams in the Winchester area. We’re here to prove we’re one of the best teams in the state.”

The Judges have been awful tough when they get rolling and that happened quickly against the Colonels (7-15, 1-7). Braun-Duin nailed his first two 3-point attempts and combined with Breylon Miller (4 points) to score 13 points as the Judges raced to a 15-4 lead.

“Seeing a few go down makes you feel good,” said Braun-Duin, who raised his area-best scoring average to 23.1. “It gets the crowd going. You look over at the other team’s crowd and they are like, ‘Oh, it’s going to be a long night,’ and it was.”

The Colonels did scrap back to within 15-9 at the quarter’s end. And closed to within 15-12 as Ronnie Barrett had three points to start the second period.

But, Kyren Oglesby found Braun-Duin for a layup in transition which triggered an 11-0 run. Braun-Duin had six points in the outburst including a layup after a beautiful fullcourt pass from Jaishaun Offutt, who is best known for his prowess on the offensive and defensive line in football. James Wood wasn’t able to cut the margin to single digits from there. Handley led 35-19 at the half.

“There was a little bit of a lull there in the middle and the end of the second quarter where we really couldn’t find it and they did,” James Wood coach Tim Wygant said. “We could have rebounded better in the second and third quarter. The ball kind of got bounced around a lot and it ended up in their lap either going to the free throw line, layup or a kickout 3.”

Braun-Duin scored Handley’s first 12 points of the second half, sinking a pair of 3-pointers in a 12-0 run that put the Judges ahead 49-25 with 2:50 left in the quarter. Quincy Dinges also would drain a pair of 3-pointers in the period as Handley took a 57-38 lead into the final quarter.

The Judges opened the final period with a 14-4 run as the lead ballooned to 71-42 with 3:58 left. The Colonels fought to the end, slicing eight points off that margin before the final buzzer.

Throughout the contest, Handley’s trapping defense, led by guards Kaplan Ambrose and Jaevon Brisco, caused James Wood trouble and the Judges converted several of those turnovers into points.

“Kaplan and Jaevon are really setting the tempo on the ball,” Harrell-Zook said. “Everybody else is really locked in to our scouting report. … The only thing we struggled with tonight on was them getting the ball inside. … They have got great post players and they were making plays.”

Oglesby added 10 points for the Judges, while Brisco netted nine and Miller and Dinges scored eight each.

Center Ashton Kees had 15 points to pace the Colonels. Zach Woskobunik netted nine points (on three 3-pointers) and Brodie Sirbaugh notched eight for a squad which will graduate seven.

“They worked so hard,” Wygant said of his players this season. “I was telling them in [the locker room] that this is one of those teams that could have made some noise in a district tournament because they play so hard. They were a little bit snake-bitten in a couple of games where some shots that typically go in didn’t.

“… I can’t stress enough how much fun it was to come to practice every day, how much I enjoyed being around these guys and how hard they worked. It’s going to be tough not to see them every day for the next couple of weeks and months.”

The Judges now set their sights on Sherando, who they’ve handled twice this season, 88-64 in December and 73-59 on Wednesday.

“It’s hard to beat a team three times and anything I can tell these guys how we have to bring it, the better,” Harrell-Zook said. “… I’m sure there’s cards Coach [Garland] Williams hasn’t shown yet and I’ve got cards up my sleeve that I haven’t shown yet.”

“It’s hard beating a team three times, but it’s also hard beating a team you haven’t beaten before,” Braun-Duin added. “They haven’t beaten us and we’ve got that chip on our shoulder. They obviously have that chip on their shoulder, too. We have a mature team and we’re just going to keep our eyes set on the prize.”

Note: At halftime of the game, James Wood honored its Class 4 state champion volleyball team with the presentation of title rings. The Colonels went 27-2 this fall in defending their state crown.

— Contact Walt Moody at

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