Handley beat the buzzer – twice – and came up with a scintillating comeback in a 69-68 win over Anniston for the area championship Friday in Roanoke.
Jay Haynes and Devontae Higgins provided the heroics – Higgins with a three to send it to overtime at the end of regulation and Haynes with the game-winner on the final play that set off a court-rushing celebration among the Handley players and the fans and students in attendance.
It was a celebratory scene that was set up by a dramatic Handley rally over the final four minutes of regulation. Handley trailed 55-47after a bucket by Anniston’s Antonio Kite with 4:02 left to play. But Cannon Kyles scored five of his 13 points as part of a 7-0 Handley run that cut the lead to 55-54 with 1:39 left.
Kite scored the next three points to put the lead back to four with 19 second left. Handley got a quick bucket by Rondai Banks, and Kite hit just one out of two from the line after a Handley foul with 6.4 seconds to go to give Handley a shot to tie it.
Handley went the length of the floor, found Higgins in the corner, and he drained the three as the buzzer sounded to send it to overtime.
The extra period was a back-and-forth affair, as the lead changed hands seven times in overtime alone. Anniston led 68-67 after Kite’s sixth point of OT with 31 seconds left.
Handley took its final possession with just under 10 seconds to go, had the ball knocked out of bounds with 3.8 showing on the clock and had to throw it in from the baseline for the final shot.
Banks took the inbounds pass, dribbled to the top of the key, and handed it off to Haynes who put it up from just beyond the free throw line to win it.
Banks finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Haynes added 13 points – six in overtime – and six boards, and Kyles finished with 13 points as well.
The win sent Handley to the subregional round of the state tournament, a Tuesday home game against Etowah. The results of that game were not available at press time.
Handley 64, Munford 46
Handley reached the area championship game with a 64-46 win over Munford last Wednesday.
Handley broke open a close game with a 21-8 advantage in the third quarter, then scored 14 of its 18 fourth quarter points from the free throw line to ice it.
Terrance Tucker led Handley with 16 points. Rondai Banks had 12, and Jay Haynes finished with 10.