Men's basketball: Shenandoah 84, Stevenson 67
By Robert Edmonds - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- After falling short in several close games this season, the Shenandoah Hornets picked up a much needed win when they hosted Stevenson on Monday night.
After battling to a virtual draw in the first half, the Hornets picked up the defensive pressure and revved up their offense winning in convincing fashion, 84-67.
Beginning the second half with a 35-33 lead, the Hornets went to a pressure defense employing a 1-2-2 zone that had the Mustangs' guards frazzled. Broderick Hill was forced into a turnover and Shenandoah's Chris Schrader connected on a jump shot to get things started.
"We used the press in the second half and it really picked up our intensity," Schrader who recorded a double-double with 11 points and 18 rebounds said. "We stayed with it the entire half and it really worked well for us."
"That's been in our arsenal now for about two years," Shenandoah coach Rob Harris said. "At halftime my assistants came to me and told me we needed to try some different things. I went along with it and it worked well for us."
Hill responded with a 3-pointer for the Mustangs, but things went downhill after that. Led by junior forward Kevin Kline, the Hornets exploded, going on a 17-2 run. The Hornets game plan in the second half was to feed the ball in low. Kline capitalized on the objective scoring eight points in less than two minutes during the streak.
"We really wanted to put more pressure on them in the second half," Kline said. "We didn't have much intensity at all in the first half. We were able to make our defense work for our offense in the second half and that led to some easy transition buckets that helped us build our lead."
With the Mustangs defense focusing on Kline and the low post, the Hornets used effective passing to spread the ball and convert on their opportunities. Five different Hornets found the basket during the run including Brandon Bryan who scored five and capped the run with a 3-pointer to give his team plenty of breathing room.
"Kline is a mainstay in our offense," Harris said. "Our offense goes through him and we play off of that. We made some key adjustments and off that we were able to find Bryan for some wide open looks that he was able to knock down."
Shenandoah had no plans of slowing down the pace either. Turnovers led to easy buckets and Bryan added two more 3-pointers, his final one extending the lead to 19 just seven minutes into the second half.
"We started the half looking inside and with us being able to score, they began to focus on the inside," Kline said. "That opened up things for us and we were able to kick the ball back out and Brandon [Bryan] came through with some big 3-pointers for us."
From there, the Hornets continued the pressure extending their lead to as much as 25 as they continued to convert off Stevenson mistakes. The Hornets scored 15 points off of the Mustangs turnovers in the second half and the 3-pointers that carried the Mustangs in the first half were no where to be found as the Mustangs were 3-for-13 from behind the arc in the second half.
"We didn't get as much in transition after the first half," Mustangs coach Brett Adams said. "Rob [Harris] came out with a wrinkle after halftime that helped them get some easy points and forced us to make some quick shots. We weren't attacking like we should have and you have to give them a lot of credit tonight."
Both teams entered the night with a 1-7 record and were looking to spark momentum against an opponent they had not faced during the past six seasons. With an impressive showing in the second half, the Hornets did just that as they rolled in the first game of a five-game homestand.
"This was a real good test for us," Harris said. "We were able to see what we could do against a zone defense and we got a win. We're real methodical in what we are trying to do and what it comes down to is players making plays. We're going to make sure they are prepared in practice and we'll start game planning for our next game right away."
Shenandoah will have little time to relish the victory as they prepare to face Marymount, the only other team they have defeated thus far, on Wednesday.
"This win was big for us," Kline said. "We know we are capable, but we just have to keep our intensity up. I'm glad we're going to be home for a while and if we can keep the intensity up and focus at practice, I think we can get things going."