By Greg Brill - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- Dominique Porter had one of the best seats in Sherando's gymnasium for the start of Tuesday night's nondistrict boys basketball game with Musselman (W.Va.).
His brother, Tre, and buddies Jalen Brisco, Jalen Harris, and Terry Wood had pretty much the same vantage point, as well.
A bench full of the regular starting five had to take in close to three minutes of the opening action taking place on the floor. Sherando coach Garland Williams had been displeased with the group's effort in Monday's dismal loss to Hedgesville (W.Va.) and wanted to send a message.
When the regular group entered with 5:34 left in the first period and the Warriors holding a 3-2 lead, teamwork was the only thing that mattered.
Sherando's next three baskets all came off assists from Dominique Porter, Tre Porter, and Harris, and the Warriors closed the period with a 19-5 run to push the lead to 22-7.
Sherando kept on pushing and sharing, exploding for 51 first-half points and going on to an 81-49 win.
"The game of basketball is about teamwork," Dominique Porter said. "You have to work the ball around, find the open man, and the basket will come open. That's what we did tonight, I felt like, and the basket came open a lot."
Using pressure defense all over the floor, the Warriors (2-4) made a habit of stepping in passing lanes and converting on the other end. Sherando scored eight points off turnovers in the first period, adding 10 more points in the second period on giveaways.
Musselman was guilty of seven turnovers in each period, and was always a step late picking up shooters, whether Sherando popped in jumpers off the wings or went for the high-percentage shot on the blocks.
If putting up 22 points in the first quarter was impressive, scoring 29 in the second period (on 13 of 20 shooting) showcased how the Warriors could keep the focus where it belonged, even after attaining a double-digit lead in the first eight minutes.
"We don't want it to come to a situation like [benching starters for lack of effort], but we just haven't been effective as far as making the correct decisions and shot selection," Williams said. "So we just figured 'OK, we'll change it up a little bit.'
"We know Musselman's down a little bit, so we had a chance to work on some pressure [defense] and we felt we needed to do that because we hope to do some things like that in the future."
Of the 21 baskets the Warriors made in the first half, 15 came by an assist. Tre Porter and Brisco each had four assists to lead the way, and Dominique Porter had three.
To begin many of those extra possessions, the Warriors either got a steal or quick outlet off a defensive rebound.
"From tonight, I see that we [have the potential] to do that every night," Dominique Porter said. "Our defense showed that we can be effective. Our last couple games, our defense wasn't on and we were back on our heels.
"Tonight, we showed we could be an aggressive team. We showed our quickness. We have a lot of athletes on our basketball team, so we just showed what we could do."
The points were spread around -- keeping with the team theme. Dominique Porter put in all 11 of his points in the first half. Tre Porter had six of his eight. Harris, 12 of his 16.
Backup post Scott Markland always seemed to get open, and put in nine of his 14 points off the bench in the second half.
At times, it looked like a layup drill. The Warriors were that dominant.
Sherando's 45-29 loss to Hedgesville on Monday was one it quickly wanted to put to distant memory. It didn't even take the Warriors 10 minutes to eclipse their total from the day before, getting their 29th and 30th points with Dominique Porter's transition layup at the 6:35 mark of the second quarter after his steal.
Even in the final seconds, the Warriors were working. Tre Porter captured an offensive rebound off the weak side, turned and lofted a turnaround, baseline jumper, that fell through the net just as the horn sounded to end the first half with Sherando up 51-17.
Sherando's only real point of concern came in the first few minutes of the third period.
The Warriors lost their edge, if only briefly. Sherando was whistled for four fouls less than a minute-and-a-half into the third, and Williams needed to use two timeouts.
"The main thing is to take care of the basketball," Williams said. "Even though you've got a lead, you don't want to throw the ball all over the place. Especially, with the large lead we had."
Musselman kept up with the pace better in the second half, and even outscored the Warriors by two over the final two periods. But Sherando kept the margin at a safe distance, never allowing it to slip under 25 points.
The Warriors ended up making 32 field goals and shooting 44 percent from the field, and they also forced 24 turnovers. Nine of their 11 players ended up in the scoring column.
"We're still a work in progress -- and we want to see that progress come real soon," Williams said.