By Brad Fauber
STEPHENS CITY - Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy's girls basketball team takes pride in playing aggressive, in-your-face defense, and that pressure was simply too much to handle for visiting Fresta Valley Christian on Thursday.
The Patriots forced a young and overmatched Pioneers squad into 43 turnovers and limited Fresta Valley to just three field goals in a 60-7 victory.
SVCA (15-2) jumped on the Pioneers quickly in the game's opening period to build a 21-point lead after one quarter, and the Patriots used the rest of the game to fine-tune some things as they prepare for the start of postseason play in several weeks.
"A lot of girls who sit a good part of the season got a ton of playing time tonight," Patriots coach Lauren Culler said. "Everybody did well, and in the second half we really worked on running our plays, which is one of our weaknesses. So they were able to execute those better and get some real, live action."
SVCA's defense set the tone for game early as the Patriots began the game in a full-court press that helped them to a quick 9-0 lead just a minute and a half into the contest.
Freshman Samantha Yarnall started the Patriots' scoring with a short jumper in the lane 38 seconds into the game. Yarnall and senior Amanda Barlow traded buckets over the next minute before Fresta Valley coach Davey Shollenberger called a timeout with his team quickly in a nine-point hole.
SVCA backed off the full-court pressure coming out of the timeout, but the Patriots still forced 15 turnovers in the first period.
Fresta Valley has six freshmen on its eight-player roster, and four girls on the team are playing basketball for the first time, according to Shollenberger.
"That Shenandoah Valley team is very skilled, they've got some good, big players," Shollenberger said. "In the second half they picked up the intensity on the boards against a much bigger team. Overall, I'm pleased with our girls' effort. I know the scoreboard doesn't show it, but I'm proud of the intensity they brought."
SVCA held the Pioneers scoreless in the first quarter and allowed only four shot attempts in the first eight minutes. Fresta Valley finally got on the board with 7:07 left in the second quarter when Joelle Beals recorded a steal and turned it into a layup in transition.
That would be the Pioneers' only points of the half, and the Patriots took a 38-2 lead into halftime.
The second half brought much of the same as Barlow scored the first six points for SVCA in the third period to push the lead to 44-2. Fresta Valley's Katie Shollenberger hit a free throw with 4:34 remaining in the third, and that would be the only point for the Pioneers in the frame, as SVCA took a 52-3 lead into the final quarter.
SVCA began getting some bench players work as early as the second period, and Barlow said the opportunity to work on running their offensive and defensive sets will pay off for the Patriots.
"We went out and got to practice our plays, and different offenses and defenses to get ready for tougher teams in the tournaments," Barlow said.
Sophomore Hannah McGann led the Patriots with 15 points, and Yarnall and Barlow each added 13 points.
Beals led Fresta Valley with four points.
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org