By Brad Fauber
WOODSTOCK -- Central survived a lackluster performance on offense by playing solid defense in a nondistrict battle with visiting Skyline on Wednesday.
The Falcons shot less than 30 percent from the floor, but forced Skyline into 23 turnovers en route to a 47-28 win. The Hawks suffered from shooting woes of their own, shooting 21 percent from the field.
The win gives Central two straight victories to open the season.
"A win is a win, but it was kind of ugly out there," said first-year Falcons coach Mallory Skarupa. "We played hard, we played scrappy, but offensively we just need to be more disciplined."
The Falcons' offense started out hot, as junior Katelyn Poston knocked down a pair of quick layups to give Central a 4-0 lead just 30 seconds into the contest. Skyline responded to take a 5-4 lead on a 3-pointer by sophomore Jordan Christian, and a putback by junior Jenny Norman with 4:18 left in the first quarter gave the Hawks a 7-4 lead.
But Central (2-0) ended the first period on a 10-2 run, scoring on four straight possessions to take a 14-9 lead.
The Falcons extended the lead to double digits in the second period as Skyline struggled to find the basket. The Hawks (0-1) hit just one shot from the field in the frame and were outscored 12-4.
Skyline has a very young team this season, and coach Jim Kenney has been given the tough task of replacing former players Taylor Henry and Oshene Kelly, the Hawks' top offensive threats from a year ago. The situation has been made more complex with the absence of junior forward Shayne Clifton, who is suffering from a hamstring injury and will likely miss four weeks.
"You lose Taylor and Oshene, some nights that was 40 points and 25 rebounds. That's a big hole to fill," Kenney said. "We're going to learn and we're going to get better. We're going to be in some games like this early on."
Central took a 26-13 lead into halftime after freshman Cianne Fields knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the second period, but the Falcons couldn't do much to increase their lead in the third period.
Both teams fought back and forth throughout the frame, each team struggling to come up with points. Skarupa said much of Central's inability to score was a combination of bad shot selection and poor execution.
"Our shot selection wasn't the best," Skarupa said. "We got good looks on the block, we were just falling off-balance, our shoulders weren't squared. It's a bunch of those little things that we need to get into the gym and take care of."
Skyline was able to cut the Falcons' lead to 11 on a bucket in the paint by junior Jenny Norman with 5:30 left in the fourth quarter, but that was as close as the Hawks would get the rest of the game.
Norman led the Hawks with 12 points, and Christian and junior Quinn Breeden each added seven points.
Poston led all scorers with 15 points for Central, and freshman Meredith Phillips added 12 points and 10 rebounds for her first career double-double.
Kenney said he was proud of the way his team played defensively, especially against Poston, who managed just seven points over the final three quarters.
"[Central] can score, they can shoot -- they're an up and down team. To hold them to 47 points, I'm very happy with that," Kenney said. "I don't like the outcome, but I was happy with our defensive effort. Offensively we just have to figure it out, we've got some work to do there."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com