By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Sherando center Terry Wood had an off-night shooting, but still managed a game-high 26 points and the Skyline Warriors had an off night on ball handling with 20 turnovers in Tuesday night's Northwestern District boys basketball matchup.
The combination was key to a 69-51 win for Sherando.
The victory improves the Warriors' district record to 6-1, in sole possession of first place with one district game remaining on their regular-season schedule.
Wood, a 6-foot-8 senior, was 12-for-20 from the field with eight buckets in the paint and scored half of his points in the fourth period, including a conventional three-point play and two dunks for emphasis -- the second coming on a fine alley-oop assist from guard Taylor Loudan.
"We knew coming into this game that it was a big one, and it feels good just to get a win," Wood said. "We played better as the game went on. I don't think I had a very good game. I should have made a lot more shots than I did."
The last Skyline lead was 7-6 at the 3:30 mark in the first period. The closest the Hawks came for the remainder of the contest was a three-point deficit, 18-15, at 5:30 in the second period.
The Warriors maintained a 15- to 17-point lead the rest of the way, with Woods' second dunk expanding the difference to 19 points.
The Hawks committed 12 first-half turnovers, including three Warriors' steals in the last minute of the first period -- two by junior guard Aaron Miller -- resulting in five points.
Senior forward Ryan Dyke led the Hawks with 14 points, Joey Neidigh supported with 12 and Aaron Jeremiah chipped in 11.
"We had too many turnovers, didn't play well at all and missed too many easy shots," Dyke said. "They took it to us the whole game. They deserved to win. We're gonna have to refocus, because this one's over and done with and we've got Millbrook tomorrow night."
Sherando guards Tanner Ruths (12 points) and Loudan (10 points) supplemented Woods' dominant offense.
The Warriors won the previous head-to-head contest, 61-57, on Jan. 13.
"All in all, we had some things go well for us and I thought the kids did a good job executing the things we set out to do," Warriors coach Garland Williams said. "[In the fourth quarter], we had some open looks, and [Wood] was able to get some good shots.
"There's always something to work on. Especially dealing with Handley, you gotta play defense on them. We definitely know they want to get up and down the court, and we have to deal with their quickness and speed and play a much better game than we did when we went to their place."
Skyline coach Sonny Dyke fingered the Hawks' ball-handling woes.
"Turnovers just sunk us," he said. "Particularly there in the first half, at the end of the first quarter. We didn't take care of the basketball at all, and they finished shots at the rim.
"[They used the press,] but the bothersome thing to me is I don't think they [were] doing anything differently. They are athletic, their kids move well -- I thought they handled the ball extremely well. We just didn't do anything offensively well. I thought they played great.
"I cannot imagine that there's a better district, anywhere. Millbrook, Sherando and Handley are all exceptional in my mind. We have to take care of business and try to sneak up there to second or third [place]."
Sherando will host Handley in its final regular-season game Friday night. A Warriors win will give them first place in the district and earn a favorable seed in the regional tournament.
Skyline has three more district games remaining, two against Millbrook and one against James Wood.