By Greg Brill - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL - Time and again, James Wood point guard Chris Skinner would gain a step or two on his Skyline defender and set up teammates with high-percentage shots.
In fact, it got so bad for the Hawks on Tuesday night that it looked like they were on the wrong end of a layup drill.
"We had a fantastic night," Skinner said as the Colonels cruised to a 71-51 Northwestern District boys basketball win. "It was a lot of teamwork out there and a lot of intensity. It was a very good effort."
Wheeling and dealing throughout, Skinner just missed a double-double with his 10 points and nine assists, while 6-foot-7 center Mason Smith stayed under control and stayed in the game a lot more to hit 8-of-11 shots and score a game-high 18 points.
"The key was we shared the ball," James Wood coach Al Smith said. "We found the guys who were open. I thought we did a very good job in offensive transition of finding guys who were open on the break.
"The beginning to end, both offensively and defensively, this has been our best effort. I was a little concerned about [Skyline's] kids because I know how hard they play and I know how close they've played other teams. Again, it was just being able to move the basketball and find the right guys."
It didn't take James Wood (4-7, 2-1) long to find out it could get to the basket a lot better than Skyline. With the game tied at 5, Mason Smith got a pass in close and scored to put the Colonels ahead for good. On its next trip, James Wood got an easy layup from reserve James Thorne, who did not have a defender within several feet of him.
The Colonels reeled off 10 straight points and outscored the Hawks 17-5 to close the first period to lead 22-10. Thorne scored all eight of his points in the first and Skinner and Mason Smith each had five early.
The rout was on. Already down double-digits, Skyline (1-8, 0-3) could not buy a basket in the second quarter. The Hawks shot 1-for-15 in the period, and got their lone basket from Ryan Dyke with 11 seconds left.
After Dyke's basket, the Hawks forced Chad Potter to toss up a long shot for an airball, but Brock Lockhart easily snagged the missed shot on the weak side and converted at the horn for a 37-18 lead, much to the dismay of Skyline coach Sonny Dyke, who blasted his team as they left the court.
"It was by far our worst performance of the year," Sonny Dyke said. "We weren't there -- emotionally, mentally, for a large part of the game. Defensively, there were so many breakdowns that I just can't get into it."
The Hawks seemed to return inspired for the second half, scoring on their first two possessions. A 3-pointer from Zach Dove pulled Skyline to within 15 with 5:15 left before Al Smith called for a timeout and demanded of his team to play better defense.
Once back, the Colonels took their coach's words to heart and went on a 11-2 run to open a 24-point lead late in the third.
When the Colonels were playing well, Mason Smith proved to be a factor. Though he did pick up three fouls, Mason Smith kept under control much of the time around the basket. Mason Smith, who led the Colonels with nine rebounds, scored in each quarter and hit all five of his shots in the second half, when he scored 11 of his 18 points.
"Foul trouble always gets me," Mason Smith said. "Today, in the back of my head, I just knew 'Hands straight up, can't foul tonight.'"
In a loss to Sherando on Saturday, Mason Smith was stung by foul trouble most of the way and scored just eight points.
"He has silly reach-in fouls, which cost him sometimes," Al Smith said. "Most of the time [Tuesday] he was able to stay on the floor. And we actually fed him [the ball] tonight. A lot of times if you look at the film, he's open underneath and we don't get him the ball."
On this night, the Colonels had strong effort on both ends of the floor. All 10 players that dressed scored, with Lockhart scoring eight points and Potter and Cunningham scoring seven apiece.
The Colonels played without one of their top players, Trae Tinsman.
On the James Wood bench in sweatpants, Tinsman was held out due to a coaches decision, Al Smith said.