High Schools: Handley Beats Skyline, Earns State Tournament Berth
Friday, February 27, 2009
Watching one of his closest friends stand alone on the sideline all week in street clothes was a bitter pill for Handley senior guard Vance Washington.
It didn't seem fair, Washington thought, that teammate Tylon Raynor would probably miss the rest of his senior season with a severe knee injury, especially when Raynor was such a talented player and the Judges had such immense potential with him in the fold.
So hours before last night's Virginia AA Region II Division 3 semifinal in Winchester, Washington went home, cut the sleeves off a white T-shirt and used a black marker to fashion a homemade Raynor jersey that he wore under his game uniform.
With Raynor in the back of his mind the entire way, Washington turned in an inspired performance, scoring a team-high 22 points and making critical plays down the stretch to will the 19th-ranked Judges to a 75-72 victory over Skyline, earning Handley its first state tournament berth since 2001.
"I grew up with him, played basketball with him since, like, elementary school," Washington said. "It hurts to see him go out like this his senior year. I was backed by a lot of emotion. I was playing for my teammate that got hurt and the whole community."
Washington scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to hold off the surging Hawks (16-8), who battled back from an 18-point, second-quarter deficit. Once the final horn sounded, Washington peeled off his uniform, exposing the homemade jersey, and pointed to Raynor's No. 44 written on it. Raynor had been the team's third-leading scorer and best interior player before twisting his knee last week, hindering the chances of a Handley team with legitimate state title aspirations.
"Tylon does a lot of things right, and you hate to see this happen to a young man like that," Handley Coach Tommy Dixon said. "This is one of his dreams to make it to states. He'll go along with us, but it's just not going to be the same with him sitting on the bench."
Handley (21-3) advanced to tomorrow's Region II Division 3 championship against Dominion at Orange County High. Both teams advanced to next week's Virginia AA Division 3 tournament.
Two-time Dulles District player of the year DeAndre Albritton, who was shooting just 57.5 percent from the free throw line entering last night's Region II Division 3 semifinal, hit both ends of a one-and-one with three seconds remaining to give Dominion a two-point lead, and the Titans survived a frantic final sequence to down sixth-seeded William Monroe, 40-38, in Sterling. . . .
In Region II Division 4 semifinal boys' games, Broad Run fell at home to third-seeded Orange County, 65-59, and fourth-seeded Loudoun County lost to host and top seed Charlottesville, 79-68.
Loudoun County won, 76-44, over Orange County to advance to the Region II Division 4 girls' final tomorrow at Orange County. The Raiders will face top-seeded Charlottesville, which downed Broad Run, 55-33, in the other Region II Division 4 semifinal.
In a Region II Division 3 girls' semifinal, second-seeded Freedom-South Riding downed third-seeded William Monroe, 65-40, and advanced to the Division 3 championship against Millbrook, which beat Handley, 71-48, in the other semifinal.
AAA Northwest Semifinals
In Virginia AAA Northwest Region tournament semifinal boys' action, Gar-Field lost to visiting William Fleming of Roanoke, 59-42, and Hylton traveled to George Washington-Danville and lost, 84-60. . . .
On the girls' side, No. 10 Forest Park beat Franklin County, 72-56, and No. 19 Stonewall Jackson beat Stafford, 56-42. Forest Park and Stonewall both advanced to the state tournament, and they will meet tomorrow at Forest Park for the region championship.
Staff writer Paul Tenorio contributed to this report.