PREP BASKETBALL - Moe Handcox keys Blue Devils' win over Falcons

Moe Handcox scores a game-high 16 points and comes up with big plays down the stretch to help preserve Wa-Hi's 55-51 win.

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WALLA WALLA - Moe Handcox provided the basketball equivalent of burning the candle at both ends in the closing seconds of Wa-Hi's boys basketball game with visiting Hanford Friday night in the Blue Devil gym.

The 5-foot-10 junior guard broke a 51-all tie on a coast-to-coast drive with 37 seconds left, then blocked an inside shot on the Falcons' ensuing possession to help preserve a 55-51 Wa-Hi triumph.

Handcox ended up with a game-high 16 points and shared team rebounding honors with Rob Ferenz. Both players had five caroms apiece.

The Blue Devils scored their first two baskets of the night off of Hanford turnovers. The latter was a transition dunk by the 6-3 Ferenz at the 5:04 mark of period one.

"Rob played one of his best games of the year," Wa-Hi coach John Golden said.

Neither team reached double figures in the initial frame - a quarter that ended with the visitors holding a one-point edge, 9-8.

Hanford took the lead into the second quarter despite early misfortune. The Falcons coughed the ball up on five of their first six possessions.

"We wanted to pressure them and not let them get anything easy," Golden said.

Wa-Hi seized the upper hand with a 7-0 run in the first three minutes of quarter two. A Handcox 3 from the right corner with 5:12 remaining gave the Blue Devils a 15-9 lead.

The Falcons went the first four minutes of the period without a point, but closed to within two, 25-23, by halftime. Bear Braich drained a 3 with 16 seconds on the clock to establish the one-basket spread.

Wa-Hi had chances to produce a larger margin at intermission, but missed the front end of three one-and-one opportunities in the second quarter.

The teams combined for three ties and five lead changes in the third quarter and ended the stanza even at 36-36. Blue Devil Matt Watson scored half of his 12 points on the night during period three.

"Matt's been steady through our first four games," Golden said. "He's strong and has got good abilities."

The early moments of the fourth quarter featured ties at 38 and 41 before the Blue Devils scored eight of the next nine points. A Handcox follow with 4:08 left put Wa-Hi in front, 49-42.

Hanford tied the game at 51 with 1:12 to go. A 3 by Jalen DeVine completed a 9-2 Falcons' run.

The Falcons ended up 8-of-19 from 3-point distance - 6-of-11 in the second half.

"We defended pretty well, but we still had lapses and left guys open," Golden said.

Handcox's tie-breaking layin came off of Hanford's 19th and final turnover of the game.

Braich drove down the right side of the lane looking to tie the score just seconds later, but Handcox swatted his attempt away.

Handcox's rejection led to the final basket of the contest - a Watson layup off a Ferenz assist with six seconds left.

Wa-Hi was able to survive a final period in which it went 0-for-5 from the free throw line.

"The kids kept their motors running until the very end," Golden said. "There was no shortage of effort on (their) part."

After watching his team go 6-for-14 from the charity stripe, Golden said, "Free-throw shooting is still an issue."

The Blue Devils took a 2-2 record into a Saturday night contest at Southridge.

Wa-Hi 55, Hanford 51

HANFORD (51) - Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Wagar 4-5 0-0 8, Quinton 0-0 0-2 0, Braich 3-7 0-0 8, Stallings 0-0 0-0 0, DeVine 3-8 3-4 12, Rueter 5-14 3-5 15, Funk 2-2 0-0 5, Douglas 0-1 0-1 0, Nash 1-3 1-2 3. Totals 18-40 7-14 51.

WA-HI (55) - Toon 0-0 0-0 0, Ceron 1-6 0-1 3, Swenson 0-1 0-0 0, Handcox 6-13 2-3 16, Torres 0-0 0-0 0, Peasley 1-1 0-1 3, Eggers 0-1 0-0 0, 0-1 0-0 0, Campeau 0-1 0-1 0, Alden 4-6 2-5 11, Dunovant 2-3 0-0 4, Ferenz 3-6 0-1 6, Watson 5-10 2-2 12. Totals 22-48 6-14 55.

Hanford 9 14 13 15 - 51

Wa-Hi 8 17 11 19 - 55

3-point goals - Hanford 8-19 (DeVine 3-5, Braich 2-5, Rueter 2-7, Funk 1-1, Wagar 0-1), Wa-Hi 5-14 (Handcox 2-7, Peasley 1-1, Alden 1-2, Ceron 1-3, Ferenz 0-1). Total fouls - Hanford 20, Wa-Hi 18. Fouled out - none. Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - Hanford 32 (Wagar 7), Wa-Hi 31 (Handcox 5, Ferenz 5). Turnovers - Hanford 19, Wa-Hi 10. Assists - Hanford 5 (Rueter 2), Wa-Hi 14 (Alden 6).

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