HHS's Seth Kardos (front) and TA's Justin Layman battle for a rebound Tuesday night. (Photo ny Michael Reilly / DN-R)
HARRISONBURG – Seth Kardos started slow but finished fast.
The senior guard tallied 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second half and Brian Rodriguez spearheaded a Harrisonburg High School defense that held Turner Ashby to a pair of seven-point quarters as the Blue Streaks posted a 50-41 victory Tuesday night.
“That’s the first time we’ve played defense like that in three weeks,” said HHS coach Scott Joyner, whose team minimized second-chance opportunities for TA.
Junior shooting guard Shane Brown led the Knights with 15 points. Layman added 14, but TA’s offense couldn’t keep up with Harrisonburg (8-11, 4-5 in the Valley District) in a critical league matchup of Division 4 teams.
“We did a better job of keeping him in front of us,” Joyner said of limiting Layman to five points in the second half.
With a win, the Knights (11-9, 4-6) would have gained a two-game lead on HHS, all but securing a No. 1 seed and a bye in the Division 4 bracket of the district tournament (which includes Broadway). Fort Defiance, R.E. Lee, Spotswood and Waynesboro will play in the Division 3 bracket, with the champion playing the last D-4 team standing for the Valley District tournament title.
But now, the Streaks have narrowed the gap – putting TA’s inside track to an automatic Region III berth in jeopardy (the Valley will advance four teams, the top two in each division).
“I don’t know if most people realized the importance of this game in the standings,” TA coach Chad Seibert said.
Runs were hard to come by in a back-and-forth first half, especially in a low-scoring second quarter with 13 combined points. Only three Knights scored in the first half: Layman, Brown and junior substitute Brian Smiley.
“I felt like it was offensive shooting problems,” Seibert said. “You can’t score 41 points and beat anybody. You just can’t. I thought it was a race to 50, which is what I told the kids all along. They got there first.”
Harrisonburg had five players score to help the Streaks take a 22-20 halftime lead. They wasted no time expanding on it. Kardos initiated an 11-3 run with one of his three field goals in the span of 4 minutes and 27 seconds, as HHS recorded its first double-digit lead of the game, 33-23, with 2:39 left in the third quarter.
“In the second half, I just tried to give him the ball more,” Rodriguez said. “Penetrate and kick it out, because he carries us most of the time.”
Brown hit a 3-pointer that cut TA’s deficit to 46-41 with 1:21 to go, but TA didn’t get any closer. Rodriguez scored nine of his 11 points in the second half while manning the top of HHS’s zone defense for the third straight game.
“I felt like that was one of the best games we ran 23,” Rodriguez said. “We were talking, switching – like, we were on top of things.”