Coming off a three-game win streak, Culpeper boys basketball head coach James Thompson was not happy with the way his squad played Tuesday night in an 80-35 loss to visiting Handley.
“I’m very disappointed in the group tonight,” Thompson said. “They didn’t come into the locker room ready to play. They weren’t ready to play from the jump ball. There was no effort. We’re going to get it straight tonight.”
Demitri Gardner was the star of the game, as the 6-foot-4 junior swingman scored 17 of his game-high 35 points in the first quarter to get the Judges rolling.
“He [Gardner] is tough,” Handley head coach Jason Toton said. “He can play inside or outside, so he keeps teams off-balance. He sees the floor well and passes the ball well. He had one of his better games tonight, and we have to continue to have that throughout the season.”
Behind Gardner, the Judges (8-8 overall, 5-3 Class 4 Northwestern District) led 20-11 at the end of the first period and extended their advantage to 46-23 going into the half.
Handley played the third quarter the same way it did the first two—as an offensive powerhouse. The Judges outscored the Blue Devils 24-7 in the frame to take a 40-point lead, 70-30, into the final period.
Gardner left the game early in the fourth quarter after hitting the 35-point plateau. Kemani Curry added 10 points for Handley, while Chaz Lattimore chipped in nine.
“This was probably our best scoring game of the year,” Toton said. “We were coming off of an overtime loss to Millbrook, so I think our kids responded very well both offensively and defensively. It was also nice to show that we have more than just one guy that can score.”
While the Judges showed they have more than one player that can score, Thompson’s thoughts immediately gravitated to Gardner.
“He’s the best player in the district,” Thompson said of Gardner. “He’s so strong and he’s only a junior. The kid can play.”
DeJour McCray led the way for Culpeper (4-9, 3-4), scoring 15 of the Blue Devils’ 23 first-half points on his way to finishing the night with a team-high 19.
Culpeper will play at home again on both Thursday and Friday nights, welcoming in Fauquier and James Wood, respectively.