By Brad Fauber
STEPHENS CITY - Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy's girls basketball team jumped out to another fast start on Monday, this time against visiting Mountain View Christian Academy.
The Patriots, just a few days removed from a dominating defensive victory over Fresta Valley last Thursday, once again used their defensive pressure to jumpstart an early run and put the game quickly out of reach in a 66-27 win over the Conquerors.
Although the 39-point victory looks nice on paper, SVCA coach Lauren Culler said the Patriots are still not quite where they want to be as they prepare for postseason regional play, which starts in two weeks.
"I felt like, even with the lead, that we weren't playing our game," Culler said. "We were playing in response to their defense. We have to work on that - we have to stay focused on our task at hand.
"But everybody got in, and that's a good thing when everybody can see the floor."
SVCA (16-2) put the heat on early, opening the game with a full-court press immediately following senior Amanda Barlow's layup that gave the Patriots a quick 2-0 lead to start the game.
The pressure forced Mountain View (8-10) into turnovers on each of its first five possessions of the contest, allowing the Patriots to build an 8-0 lead and forcing Conquerors coach Jamin Gibson to call a timeout with 5:50 left in the first quarter.
SVCA held the Conquerors scoreless for most of the opening period before Mountain View sophomore Amber Grimes finally scored on a floater in the lane to make the score 12-2 with 1:25 to play in the frame.
The Patriots held a 14-2 lead at the end of the first, with Barlow scoring 10 of her game-high 19 points in the quarter.
SVCA has relied heavily on its defense to create scoring opportunities in transition this season, and Monday night was no different as the Patriots were able to turn many of Mountain View's miscues into quick points. Mountain View turned the ball over 29 times in the game.
"I thought we played really well. The fast-break I thought worked really well tonight," Barlow said. "We like turnovers, we like steals and we like scoring."
SVCA did plenty of scoring in the second period as the Patriots erupted for 24 points in the frame.
The Patriots quickly increased their lead to 25-6 with an 11-4 run that was capped by freshman Grace Snyder's 3-pointer with 4:45 left before halftime. The Conquerors answered with a 3-pointer by sophomore Hannah Hardman (seven points), but SVCA ended the half on a 13-2 run to take a 38-11 lead into the break.
SVCA benefited from a balanced scoring effort in the game, as four different players reached double figures in points. Freshman Samantha Yarnall had 12 points for the Patriots, and Snyder and sophomore Hannah McGann each added 11 points to go along with Barlow's 19.
"We have a deep bench," Culler said. "I'm very blessed with the girls we have and how hard they work and the attitude they bring to share the ball and work together."
Mountain View played its best in the third period, as the Conquerors scored 11 points and committed just three turnovers, but the deficit was simply too much to overcome.
Culler took advantage of the opportunity to get SVCA's bench players some work in the second half as the Patriots continue to prepare for the postseason. Culler said the Patriots are unbeaten in the region and will have the top seed come tournament time.
"We'd like to become even more aggressive, we just need to sometimes slow it down instead of pick up when the teams aren't as balanced," Culler said. "Keeping the adrenaline up and keeping the focus up is what we're trying to work on during those times."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org