Winchester, VA (February 11, 2021) - Regional playoffs always bring some uncertainty due to the fact that teams from different districts and conferences rarely play each other. This is especially true during this shortened season when there is almost no chance of common opponents. 

As warmups began for the Region 4C championship, the John Handley Judges and Loudoun County Captains looked across the court and saw each other in person for the first time. They knew reputations and records, but they were relatively unfamiliar. But both teams had completed stellar regular seasons and had earned their spots in the final.

Chas Sumser Photography was there to capture the action and emotion and posted a gallery of images from the game.

Midway through the first period, the Captains were nursing an early lead, but the Judges got their game going and at the break the game was tied, 12-12. County's deliberate and patterned offense was working well while Handley's quick strike attack was beginning to take flight.

In the second period, Handley's superb forward Demitri Gardner took charge. He was a force on both ends of the court and helped establish a three-point lead for his team. The judges would maintain that margin going into halftime, 26-23.

The third quarter was more of the same with Handley pushing the lead out a little bit further--but not much. County's deep bench continued to hustle and would simply not let the game get away, closing the gap to a single point with time winding down. But Gardner hit a half-court shot to end the quarter, extending the lead to 39-36 at the buzzer.

It looked like maybe that shot was the dagger that would end the Captains' chances, but County had other ideas. Amazingly--with about four minutes remaining--they moved in front, 45-44. Handley immediately took the lead back, and made it 51-47 with less than three minutes to play, but the Captains came back again, tying it at 53-53 with just a minute to play.

And of course, with the game on the line the Judges put the ball in their leader's hands, and he nailed a short jumper for a 55-53 lead with 0:24 remaining. County had two good chances to tie the game, but both fell short and the Handley celebration began.

Final Score: John Handley 55 - Loudoun County 53

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