Hawks rebound with home win over Tigers

FRONT ROYAL – Skyline’s girls basketball team got the bounce-back game it needed Monday night against visiting Brentsville.

Just a few days removed from a one-point loss to Clarke County last Friday night, the Hawks responded with a 44-35 Conference 28 victory at home against the Tigers.

“I was real happy with the whole effort tonight,” said Hawks coach Jim Kenney, whose team has won three of its last four. “This was a game that we needed after Friday night. … Coming off of that we needed to come out and play well, so I was happy with it.”

Finding an offensive rhythm was a struggle for both teams for most of Monday night’s contest – Skyline (2-4) held an 18-9 lead at halftime while Brentsville suffered from a 10-minute scoring drought – but things picked up in the third quarter.

Brentsville (2-5) needed just three minutes in the second half to exceed its first-half scoring output as junior Megan Garman sparked the Tigers with 9 points during a 12-6 run that cut the Hawks’ lead to 24-21 with 4:22 left in the third period.

Skyline switched to a 2-3 zone after Garman’s output in the period, during which she scored 10 of her game-high 18 points. The Hawks had used man-to-man defense up until that point.

“It worked for us but we kept getting caught up on that little high screen that they were setting with that curl cut,” Kenney said of the Hawks’ man defense. “I pretty much knew from scouting that they have one girl that can hit outside shots and we said, ‘You’ve gotta know where she is.’ We still lost her. … We still let her score 18 but she’s a decent little player.”

Skyline pushed its lead back to 7 points after back-to-back buckets in the paint by junior Nikea Whitmore and senior Katelyn Bolt, and the Hawks took a 32-26 lead into the final period.

The Tigers cut that lead to 2 points on a 3-pointer by Morgan Pettit with 6:15 remaining but Skyline countered with some timely shooting to extend its lead with an 8-0 run. Hawks senior Makaela Dawkins started the spurt by hitting a 3-pointer from the wing with a defender in her face, then she found teammate Alana Smith (8 points) with a skip pass on Skyline’s next possession that Smith turned into her second 3-pointer of the night.

Dawkins then found Whitmore with a lob pass into the paint, and Whitmore converted the easy basket to put the Hawks up 40-30 with 2:25 to play.

“Neither one of us are very strong offensively but our girls hit some shots when they needed to hit some shots,” said Kenney, whose team shot 32 percent (16 for 50) from the field in the victory.

Brentsville cut the Hawks’ lead back to 8 points with 2:07 remaining but Smith, a freshman, hit two free throws to keep Skyline’s lead at 10 points with 36 seconds left. Garman hit her third trey of the game with 13 seconds left but Hawks sophomore Kali Slate (4 points, five rebounds) made good on two free throws to set the final margin with 11 seconds to play.

“I just thought we stayed focused defensively even when some things didn’t go our way,” said Kenney, whose team limited Brentsville to a 27.3-percent shooting mark from the floor. “We stayed focused (and) the girls really stepped up again with those free throws.”

Dawkins, who also started a key run for Skyline in the second quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers, led the Hawks with 14 points, while Whitmore added 10 points and six rebounds. Senior Jakya Jones led Skyline with seven rebounds.

The Hawks enjoyed a 39-29 advantage on the boards and though Skyline finished the game with 14 turnovers, the Hawks had just two in the first half.

“Fortunately Rachel (Sirbaugh), our point guard, she took really good care of the ball tonight,” Kenney said. “Good ball security. She made some really good decisions, made some good passes.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com