Ben Brooks - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Skyline High School junior Kelsey Corcoran's left-handed baby hook from the low block with 12 seconds left Thursday night helped lift the Hawks to a 58-56 Northwestern District girls basketball victory over Sherando.
With the game on the line, Skyline looked first to sophomore guard Taylor Henry on the baseline. But when Sherando denied Henry the ball, the Hawks went down low instead. As Corcoran positioned herself in the post, teammate Shannon Hoverter fed her the ball in the lane. With Sherando's Paige Mills guarding her and a double team coming, Corcoran spun to her right and banked in a soft shot with her off hand.
"Shannon made a tough pass to get it there," said Corcoran, who finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. "I was asking for it toward the middle. When I got it, I turned and saw Brooklyn [Wilson]. I was afraid of getting a charging call, so I just did a little up-and-under her."
"It's the end of the game, and she made the shot when she had to," said Skyline coach Jim Kenney, who called it a must-win if the Hawks had any hope of gaining third place in the five-team district before the tournament.
Skyline (7-8, 2-4) seemed to be on its way to its second district win of the season and a season sweep of the Warriors, thanks to an 11-4 spurt over the first 3 1/2 minutes of the final quarter. However, Sherando, which finished winless in league play, wouldn't go down without a fight.
The Warriors went on a 13-3 run, spearheaded by some tenacious full-court pressure defense, and grabbed a 54-52 lead. Morgan Sirbaugh took a bounce pass from Wilson in stride and converted the layup with 1:35 left to play to give Sherando its first lead since late in the third.
"These girls showed a lot of heart tonight, more than I've seen in a long time," Warriors coach Tim Davis said. "We had our opportunities at the end, but you have to give Skyline credit. They made the shots when they needed to. They got the ball in the hands of the big girl [Corcoran], and she came through for them."
With the Warriors (7-13, 0-8) up by two, Skyline's Casey Henry hit one of two free throws and Oshene Kelly scored down low from a Taylor Henry feed to put the Hawks back up 55-54 with 50 seconds remaining. Kristina Salazar's free throw extended Skyline's lead to 56-54, but Wilson tied it again with 32 seconds left with a pair from the line. Wilson, who created opportunities for herself and her teammates with dribble penetration late in the game, scored eight of her team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter.
"We've had kind of a rough season, but I think we showed a lot of heart tonight," Wilson said. "It would have been easy for us to just give up. But we fight for each other. We all wanted to win this one for each other."
Taylor Henry led all scorers with 20 points. Nine of those came in a third quarter that saw the Hawks overcome a 30-25 halftime deficit and take a 38-37 lead heading to the fourth.
Sirbaugh followed Wilson in Sherando's scoring column with 16 points. Taylor Henshaw added 10 points before fouling out.
As pleased as she was about hitting the winning shot, Corcoran realizes that the Hawks can't afford to let comfortable leads slip away, especially with the postseason right around the corner.
"Other teams are going to look at that," Corcoran said. "If we get a lead like that on them and start to slip a little, they're going to jump on that and we'll be done."