Too many Cougars flu the coop in boys basketball loss to Handley
Friday, Feb. 1
Brendan Deliee made four 3-pointers Friday, but his Kettle Run Cougars lost to John Handley, 69-55, in Nokesville. --Times-Democrat Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Three Kettle Run players caught the flu and missed their game Friday.
Each of their remaining teammates had a cold shooting night.
That combination helped the John Handley Judges beat the Cougars, 69-55, Friday on the road in Nokesville.
Kettle Run began the game without three guards and a forward who had played significant minutes this season, including starters Danny Mattson and Travis Williams, who have combined for 20.2 points per game. Mattson, Williams and forward Eddie Benton did not attend the game due to their illnesses, while guard Christian Yancy sat on the bench with an injured ankle.
The absence of those players, especially the guards, limited the Cougars’ offense.
“We had to run basically [only] two sets offensively because we normally play with four guards” at once, Kettle Run coach Troy Washington said. “Tonight we had to play with two posts at a time. We had to draw some things up on the fly.”
Under the circumstances, Kettle Run performed pretty well. Despite a healthier lineup Jan. 11, the Cougars still lost to Handley, 76-65. On Friday, they only trailed by four points with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter. Handley, however, closed the game with a 28-18 run.
“We played alright; better than I thought we would.” said Rashawn Latimer, who scored a game-high 23 points. “It was tough. We miss” those four players.
The non-district game against Handley (15-4) actually came at a fortuitous time. The depleted Cougars got a brief break from their Evergreen District schedule, which will resume with a game Feb. 5 at Liberty. Kettle Run (8-11 overall, 4-1 district) and Liberty (11-10, 6-1) each have only one loss in Evergreen play. The Cougars will then close the regular season with games at Brentsville and at home against Fauquier.
“I’m praying that all 13 of them come back and they’re healthy and ready to go,” Washington said. “Try to get ready for the championship week. … This is a big week for us.”
Kettle Run will also await the status of freshman Jared Newcomer, who started Friday only to leave the game with a concussion.
With so many players unavailable, the Cougars seemed to force shots against the Judges. They finished with 70 field goal attempts and made only 20 (29 percent).
“I probably had 50 of them,” Latimer said. “We probably could have had better shots, settled down a little more. It might have kept us in the game.”
Kettle Run fell behind 28-17 at the end of the first quarter, but rallied to narrow its deficit to 32-30 before Handley took a 37-30 lead into halftime. The Cougars closed that gap to 41-37 midway through the third quarter, but never got closer.
Their seven 3-pointers helped compensate for an overall poor shooting percentage. Brendan Deliee made four 3-pointers en route to 14 points, while Latimer had two and Lucas Costa made one to finish with six points. Steven Gaskins added nine points.
Kettle Run faced a deficit most of the game because Handley sprinted out to a 21-10 lead and finished the first quarter with 28 points thanks to a lot of fast break baskets.
“It would have been a whole different contest if they had all their people here,” Judges coach Tom Dixon said. “You have to look at that as part of the reason we had a big lead in the first quarter.”
Handley’s first-quarter success came against Kettle Run’s man-to-man defense. The Cougars then switched to a 3-2 zone defense at the end of the period, which slowed the Judges a bit.
“[Tre] Brown and [Darion} Robinson are very good at getting in the paint, so we were trying to jam up the middle and take away [their] looks,” Washington said.
That worked to an extent, but Kettle Run had no answer for Cameron Jackson, Handley’s 6-foot-7, 225-pound post. Jackson finished with 22 rebounds (10 offensive), 19 points, six assists, four blocks and two steals.
“I don’t think we did a good job boxing out,” Washington said. “With a kid that physical and that big, you’ve got to put a body on him.”
The Judges out-rebounded Kettle Run, 44-34, with Deliee grabbing nine and Gaskins and Abu Kai Kai adding six each. Jacob Rudolph had seven rebounds and nine points for Handley, while Buster Wigley had 15 points and Brown had five assist. Costa had six points, four steals and two assists for Kettle Run.
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