By Jeremy Stafford - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- Erin Drumheller sauntered to center court at Sherando High School for only her fourth game adorned in Sherando's scarlet garb, and her palms were wet with nervous perspiration.
She said she felt jumpy. She said she felt a lot like a freshman again.
But Drumheller's nerves weren't buzzing for the reason one might suppose: Having transferred from Handley for her senior season, Drumheller, for the first time in her career, took in Sherando's red- and lemon-tinted gymnasium as her home court, took in Sherando's boisterous fans as her home crowd.
But Drumheller said that experience felt almost normal.
What had Drumheller so anxious was that she was playing in front of a home crowd.
After playing the first three games of its season at Jefferson (W.Va.), Washington (W.Va.) and Martinsburg (W.Va.), Sherando, under first-year head coach Kevin Reed, finally revealed its new-look offense at home Friday night.
All the rest, for Drumheller, was extraneous.
"I think that the girls make me feel so comfortable that I don't feel like I'm trying to fit in," Drumheller said following Sherando's 66-47 win over Clarke County. "I just feel like I fit in."
Drumheller put extra emphasis on that last "fit."
She also put extra emphasis on how well her teammates played: Sherando junior Morgan Sirbaugh scored a team-high 15 points, junior Briana Hudnall dripped in 12 points, and junior Allison Boespflug added 10 points.
Drumheller, in her debut at Sherando High School, scored 12.
Which marks the first time this young season that Sherando has had four players score in double-digits; and with Courtney Reid scoring nine and Keyaira Newman scoring six, the Warriors were close to having six players achieve the feat.
A season ago, Sirbaugh represented the Warriors' best threat to score in double-figures night after night after night.
Under Reed, the Warriors no longer lean on Sirbaugh as heavily as they once did, though on Friday they leaned on her some.
Through two quarters, Clarke County had out-rebounded Sherando and scored efficiently in the paint to keep pace with the Warriors. The Eagles even held a 32-30 advantage with 1:25 left in the second quarter.
Then Sirbaugh, after taking only six shots in the first half, scored eight points in the third quarter, more than anyone else in the eight-minute frame.
The Warriors' defense followed suit: Sherando allowed only one Clarke County field goal in the third quarter.
"We were definitely lacking on defense the first half, and coach [Reed] said we needed to pick it up, and we did in the third quarter," Sirbaugh said. "We were hustling more, we boxed out most every single time ... it was a lot better."
Indeed, Reed's expectation with every game, win or lose, is to see marked improvement. Despite a recent loss at Martinsburg, it seems Sherando is methodically adjusting to Reed's system. In Reed's own words, the Warriors are starting to find their flow.
"[I give] Briana Hudnall a lot of credit: She was crashing the offensive boards, she had a couple blocked shots, a couple big rebounds," Reed said. "She got that flow going and allowed us to get out and let our players do what they're capable of doing."
Conversely, Clarke County coach Tim Lawrence is still finding out what his inexperienced Eagles are capable of doing.
He already knows senior Kasey Canterbury is capable of scoring 20 points, as she did Friday night. And he already knows senior Brittany Yates plays bigger than her 5-6 frame suggests.
But Lawrence doesn't yet know how deep his Eagles are, and in game as tight as Friday's was, the natural tendency is to favor his experienced players -- go for the win -- rather than tinker with potential lineups and tandems.
"It typically takes a little while for me to figure out what my best rotation is going to be, and how to work everyone into the mix," Lawrence said. "But I saw some good things from our kids tonight, especially in that first half -- that was hands down the best half we've played."
Sophomore forward Ammie Levi scored all four of her points in the second half, and Logan Johnson added four points of her own. Yates yielded six points, while Megan Waring and Chelsea Nelson each had five.