HHS Beats TA

Sampson Key In 55-40 Victory

Posted: January 5, 2013

BRIDGEWATER – All season, the Harrisonburg High School’s boys’ basketball team has been searching for a win it could feel good about. Going into Friday’s bout with Turner Ashby, the Blue Streaks had won just two games – one against a private school (Eastern Mennonite), and one against a lower-division school (Wilson Memorial).


Enter nostalgia: A Sampson helped lift the Blue Streaks from their funk.


HHS sophomore Damien Sampson, a cousin of former Harrisonburg star Ralph Sampson, scored 12 points as part of a 23-4 run in the latter stages of the Blue Streaks’ 55-40 win over TA.


“I had it going, and I was hot, and I was on point,” Sampson said. “When I get hot, I keep looking for my shot.”


Sampson started the late run with his first points of the game: a 3-pointer from the corner at the third-quarter buzzer, plus a foul as he got knocked to the floor. It was the first 3 for the Streaks after they missed their first seven, and it gave them a 35-31 lead.


He missed the free throw, but from there, Sampson – and Harrisonburg in general – played with swagger. HHS (3-7 overall, 1-2 in the Valley District) scored the first 12 points of the fourth quarter, and ultimately led by as many as 20 in a game that, for the first three periods, looked like it was going to be close.


“That [Sampson 3] gave us a lot of confidence, because if he didn’t hit that shot, then I don’t know where we would have been,” said senior Seth Kardos, who poured in 25 points as he continues to battle an ankle injury. “It gave us a lot of energy. It just really helped get us going.”


In general, the Streaks looked as comfortable as they’ve been all season in first-year coach Scott Joyner’s flex offense, which previously had often broken down into Kardos going one-on-one. That didn’t happen as much against TA.


“People didn’t break it [the offense] off after two passes,” Joyner said. “We ran the offense, and hopefully they see it works now. Before, I’m sure they were like, ‘Does it even work?’”


Senior Shane Brown led TA (3-7, 1-2) with 18 points, and senior Justin Layman added 10. But the Knights, who have lost three straight and five of their last six, shot just 11-of-46 from the floor, were out-rebounded 42-19 and didn’t provide much resistance during Harrisonburg’s late surge.


“Kardos went wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted, and we didn’t do anything about it,” TA coach Chad Seibert said. “…And he did it on one ankle. It’s a good thing he didn’t have two ankles, or he might’ve scored 50.”


But the Knights’ defensive let-down started with the foul at the end of the third by freshman Brennan Hanifee, who rammed into Sampson after he released the shot.


“We’ve talked about having the discipline to stay on the floor and not jump at people and not do that stuff, and we just lose our mind and plant a guy in the first row,” Seibert said. “And of course it [the shot] goes in when we do that stuff.


“But so what? All right, cool, good for him, now it’s a four-point game instead, what are you going to do about it? We just didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to fight back.”