By Tommy Keeler Jr. - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- After losing four starters to graduation last year, Skyline knew it would need some players to step up on this year's team. Seniors Ryan Dyke and Joey Neidigh were two of the main players that knew that they had to fill the leadership void left from last year's seniors.
Against Central on Tuesday night, Dyke and Neidigh showed that senior leadership as they helped the Hawks go on a run midway through third quarter, which the Falcons couldn't answer. The pair combined for 38 points as Skyline pulled out a 76-50 nondistrict victory over Central.
"Joey and I have been in the Skyline program for five years, three years on varsity, so we know what's expected," Dyke said. "We try to help the younger guys. If they're down, we try to pick up their confidence and tell them to keep playing hard."
With the game close early in the second half, Dyke and Neidigh were able to lead by example. The Falcons came out with a 7-2 run and had cut the Skyline lead to 38-34 with 5:55 left in the third period.
Dyke and Neidigh combined for six points during a 10-0 run to help give the Hawks a comfortable lead.
"We started to hit some 3's, and we were able to get some easier shots," Neidigh said. "We started playing better on defense, which also made things easier on us."
One of the key adjustments Skyline coach Sonny Dyke made at the half was having junior Dayvon Haight defend Central's Travis Cooper. The Central sophomore had 14 points in the first half, but was held to only six in the second half.
"Dayvon is an extremely good defender, and we knew he could go out and get the job done," Sonny Dyke said. "Dayvon did a lot of things that don't show up in the stat sheet. I think his defense really triggered some things for us on offense."
The first half was a game of runs. Skyline used an 11-2 run to take an 18-10 lead after the first period.
Central's Hayden Bauserman hit a layup to start the second period, but the Hawks (2-0) answered with a layup by Kylmen Breeden and a 3-pointer by Neidigh.
The Falcons (0-3) then went on a run of their own. Cooper had four points during a 13-2 run that tied the game at 25-25 with 2:48 left in the first half.
Dyke and Neidigh took control as they combined for all the points in a 9-2 Skyline spurt to close the half.
Despite the 34-27 halftime lead, the Hawks were not happy with how they played in the opening half.
"We started out slow, just like we did the first game," Neidigh said. "That's something we really need to fix. In the second half we played a lot better defense."
Cooper led the Falcons with 20 points, while Bauserman had eight. The Falcons start three sophomores, and got off to a slow start this season with the football team advancing to the second round of regionals.
Central coach Mickey Clinedinst said he saw some improvements in his young squad, which hasn't had a lot of practice time to work out its kinks.
"We played well for two-and-a-half quarters," Clinedinst said. "Sean [Semones] did a good job running the show. He did a good job moving the ball around. We just need more time to work on things."
Ryan Dyke had 20 points, 12 rebounds and three steals, and Neidigh had 18 points and four assists for the Hawks. Colton Ratcliffe also had 11 points for Skyline.
Sonny Dyke said he's been happy with how his team has played in the first two games.
"It's early in the season, but we've been very happy that we've been able to score the ball," he said. "We've also really rebounded the ball well.
"I think in the history of Skyline's program tonight was the best we've posted up. We really fed the post well, and all the guards did a good job feeding the post."