By Robert Edmonds - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Clarke County moved to 2-0 while Skyline dropped its second straight game to open the 2012 girls basketball season Friday night.
The Eagles controlled most of the game by using a suffocating defense to create offense and keep the Hawks silent much of the first half while cruising to a 64-33 victory.
"I thought the key to the game tonight was our defense," Clarke County coach Tim Lawrence said. "We were able to create turnovers and scoring opportunities for our offense with our defensive pressure. We created a lot of shots simply by stepping into the
passing lanes and taking advantage by getting out on the break."
Led by sophomore Sydney Chrane, Clarke jumped ahead early with a 13-point run to start the game while holding the Hawks scoreless until Quinn Breeden connected on a pair of free throws with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter to end the team's drought.
Chrane scored 11 of the Eagles' 15 first-quarter points with Allie Hicks adding four points. The Eagles employed a full-court press on defense that stifled the Hawks' offense, giving them problems getting the ball into play and then across half court.
Skyline committed 23 turnovers in the first half, contributing to their woes while enabling Clarke to take a 31-8 lead at the half.
"We are struggling on offense right now," Hawks coach Jim Kenney said. "We have a lot of work to do with our full-court offense, but you have to give a lot of credit to Clarke as well. They were tenacious on defense and in our face. They were able to get turnovers and when they did, they knew what to do."
The adjustments that the Hawks made during the intermission led to better offensive production in the second half and a reduction in their turnovers. Jenny Norman and Breeden led the way for the Hawks on offense. Norman opened the scoring in the third quarter on a basket after an assist from Breeden.
"There was a big difference in how we played between the first and second half tonight," Kenney said. "We played a lot better in the second half and I am happy with the girls' efforts tonight. They didn't quit and kept playing right until the end."
Clarke then went on a 14-point run before Breeden connected on a jump shot to stop the Eagles' surge. The Hawks duo combined for 20 second-half points, including all of the Hawks' scoring in the fourth quarter.
Despite the resurgence, the deficit and the Eagles' continued dominance was too much for Skyline to overcome. With each Skyline score, Clarke was not only able to respond but add to the margin.
Chrane added 12 second-half points and finished with 23 on the night for the Eagles. Another Eagles sophomore, Anna Blue Catlett, got into the mix as well by contributing 17 points on the night.
"We had a lot of unselfish play tonight," Lawrence said. "We had some great effort and it showed in how the girls went after loose balls pretty hard.
"These kids have spent a lot of time in the gym together and they are working well with one another. If they keep up the work ethic and continue to play together, we should only continue to get better."