By Jeremy Stafford - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Handley sophomore Corin Scott did a little growing up Thursday night at Skyline.
With junior point guard Erin Drumheller on the bench with four fouls, a bevy of sophomore teammates on the court and a one-point advantage, Scott helped ward off a desperate Skyline team down the stretch as Handley limped to a 39-31 win.
"If you just kinda held the ball, they just came at you and fouled you," explained Scott, whose nine points was second most for the Judges. "They left the shooters open a lot, so we just shot it."
For Scott, it was like playing eighth-grade ball all over again.
One of four sophomores who saw time for the Judges in the fourth quarter, Scott said the experience was all too familiar for her, running with the same group of girls she ran with two years ago.
Only the weight of a Northwestern District varsity game weighs a few pounds heavier than an eighth-grade game, and much of that extra weight rested on Scott's shoulders.
Though Scott didn't lead a scoring rampage in the fourth quarter -- she scored four points on four shots -- she managed to do what all ball-handlers must when the point-differential is minuscule, when every possession matters: she kept the ball in Handley's possession.
"I think Corin did a good job of calming the ball down, seeing people that were open, and I think we got some easy buckets there," Handley coach Marvin Scott said. "I think Corin stepped up as a sophomore and took control after Erin left the game."
Although Marvin Scott said he trusts his young, athletic squad on the court by themselves, he admitted he spent the early portion of the fourth quarter eyeing the game clock, waiting for it to hit the three-minute mark, when he could finally throw Drumheller back in the game.
And if the Judges managed to control the game without Drumheller in the fourth quarter, they were fairly reliant on her in the second.
Drumheller spent much of the opening eight minutes dancing into the paint and dishing to her open teammates on the blocks. But with Skyline forward Kelsey Corcoran lurking under the basket, those open teammates immediately found themselves on the wrong end of a blocked shot.
So in the second period, Drumheller continued to dance to the basket and continued to flash her dazzling speed -- only she took the shots herself. She scored seven points in the second quarter, made all three of her attempts from the floor and helped turn a four-point deficit into a five-point lead in a matter of minutes.
"It depends on if I have an open look or not," Drumheller said of her decision to either shoot or pass. "If I feel like Sadie [Thomas] has a better shot, or [Jasmine Curtis], I'll give it to them.
"But, yeah, in the second quarter I felt like I got more open looks."
Corcoran, in addition to scoring a team-high 11 points, had four blocks and frustrated the Handley interior. Either pounding a score off the glass or finessing a jumper from 15 feet out, Corcoran almost single-handedly outscored the Judges in the first quarter. She was complemented later in the game by 10 points from Taylor Henry, but the Hawks couldn't seem to hold it together in the final quarter.
"We had opportunities, I mean we [forced two turnovers] -- couldn't capitalize on it, couldn't score, couldn't get any points out of it," Skyline coach Jim Kenney said. "They go to the free-throw line, knock down their free throws, we come back down, miss a layup, don't get the rebound.
"Things like that, I was telling them, you just can't win close games when you do things like that."