By Brian Eller - firstname.lastname@example.org
BERRYVILLE -- One week ago, Skyline strolled into the fourth quarter in a game against Clarke County with a lead, only to see it evaporate in a matter of minutes. The Hawks had led through the first three quarters, but faltered late to drop their first game of the season.
Tuesday night, however, there would be no collapse against the Eagles. Behind 15 points from forward Ryan Dyke and 14 from guard Cameron Taylor, Skyline overcame an early deficit, then held off a late Clarke County rally to upend the Eagles, 52-45.
"Tonight we made enough plays and had a really good stretch there in the third and fourth quarters where we played well and that was the difference for us," coach Sonny Dyke said. "We tried to get the ball inside and did a good job with that and executed well, particularly with our passing, and got a win against a pretty athletic team."
In the teams' first meeting, Skyline (5-1) capitalized on cold shooting from the Eagles to take an early lead. On Tuesday, it was Clarke County's turn to jump out in the opening minutes. Five points from guard Ethan Emmart and a 3-pointer from Connor Shendow helped the Eagles (3-1) take a 14-6 lead after one quarter, while the Hawks managed just two field goals in the first eight minutes.
That deficit was quickly erased, however, as Taylor poured in seven points in the second quarter, including one of his two 3-pointers, as Skyline outscored Clarke County 21-11 in the period. The momentum shift came with less than 10 seconds in the half. With the score tied at 25, junior Joey Neidigh was set to inbound the ball for the Hawks near midcourt. Rather than simply try and rush the ball up the court, Neidigh saw a mismatch underneath the hoop and found teammate Nick Helmick, who dropped in a layup as time expired, giving the Hawks a two-point advantage at halftime.
"That definitely gave us a little spark going into the locker room," Ryan Dyke said of the play. "We knew we had had the lead in our last game against them and gave it up so we had to come out and keep the intensity up and I thought we did a good job of that in the second half."
Most of that intensity flowed through Ryan Dyke, who added six points in the third quarter, as Helmick's four points and two points from Taylor and Neidigh helped Skyline keep the lead for most of the period. Clarke County, meanwhile, turned to center Stephan Bodkin, who led all scorers with 17 points, seven of which came in the third quarter, keeping the Eagles within reach as they headed into the final eight minutes.
"They did a better job of knowing what we were trying to do," Eagles forward Grant Shaw said. "They put some pressure on us and we had some mental lapses, and of course we weren't shooting the ball well at all."
Despite the miscues from the home team, Clarke County remained in striking distance late in the fourth quarter, as four consecutive free throws from Bodkin cut Skyline's lead to nine with a little more than a minute on the clock. Then, Matt Moyer stole the Hawks' inbound pass, then banked in a layup, making the deficit only seven points with 66 seconds left.
That would be as close as the Eagles would get, however. Skyline ate up the final seconds on its next possession, sealing the win against the Eagles, and handing Clarke County its first loss of the season.
"I was very pleased with the intensity the kids showed out there tonight," Sonny Dyke said. "We're always an intense bunch, even at practice we have 10 guys that can contribute and that makes for some intense practices, and we translated it over to the game tonight. It's a smaller gym, which can make it tough against pressure, but our kids responded and got the win."