By Brad Fauber
STEPHENS CITY -- Sherando tried desperately to erase a large fourth-quarter deficit, but the Warriors couldn't complete the comeback against visiting Washington (W. Va.) Wednesday night.
The Warriors trailed by 18 points with a little over five minutes to play in the game, and quickly began chipping away at the Patriots' lead. But the rally fell short, and Sherando fell 84-78 despite ending the contest on a 19-7 run.
Sherando (1-1) dug itself into the late deficit with some poor ball control on the offensive end. Washington, which used a steady diet of high pressure, full court man-to-man defense, forced the Warriors into 24 turnovers in the game.
"We had some spots where we just didn't play well," said Warriors coach Garland Williams. "They got some steals by just stepping into the passing lane, and we can't let that happen. We've got to get better at that."
After Washington's Keldon Bell scored on a put-back to put the Patriots (1-0) up 77-59 with 5:15 remaining in the fourth period, Sherando went on a 15-2 run to cut the deficit to just five points.
Warriors senior Aaron Miller scored eight points during the run, including a pair of 3-pointers. His second trey of the period made the score 79-74 with 1:33 remaining to play.
Miller led all scorers with 31 points.
"We've always had a no-quit attitude," Miller said. "We see the scoreboard and we think, that's not a lot, that's easy to come back from."
Washington was able to hold off the Warriors' comeback by knocking down five free-throws over the final minute of play.
Washington quickly erased a 40-36 deficit at halftime with some hot shooting in the third period. The Patriots' Dominique Newman found his stroke after scoring just three points in the first half, erupting for 15 points in the third quarter.
The Patriots outscored Sherando 25-15 in the period, hitting four 3-pointers en route to a 61-55 lead heading into the final period.
Newman led Washington with 24 points, and Jerome Jones and Maleke Jones added 16 and 15 points, respectively. As a team, the Patriots shot 25 for 61 (41 percent) from the floor.
"We were a little bit more patient on offense [in the third quarter]," said Patriots coach Don Bullett. "We're happy about the win. It's the first game, there are still a couple of things we need to work on."
Both teams battled evenly in the first half of the fast-paced affair, with Washington holding an 18-15 lead after one quarter. Sherando's first-quarter offense ran entirely through seniors Aaron Miller and Taylor Loudan, who combined for all 15 points of the Warriors' first-quarter output.
Sherando then erupted for 25 points in the second period, led largely by Miller as Loudan found himself on the bench with foul trouble for most of the quarter.
Miller scored 13 points in the second quarter alone, and ended the half with 21 points on a 9 for 11 shooting effort from the floor.
Miller said the Warriors knew Washington was going to continue to come out firing in the second half after coming up empty on a lot of shots in the first half, but Sherando's defense couldn't quite do enough to stop the Patriots' offense.
"We tried to pressure them because we knew they were going to come out in the second half and beat us up and take away the game that we had in the first half," Miller said.
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org