By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WINCHESTER -- The motto for Sherando on Tuesday night was 1997.
That was the last and only time the Warriors have held even a share of the regular season district girls basketball title.
After its 56-37 win over Handley, the program can add 2013 to the list.
The Warriors have clinched a share of the Northwestern District title, and a win by Millbrook over Skyline on Friday will make the two teams co-champions. If Millbrook beats Skyline the Pioneers and Warriors will play at Handley on Monday at 6 p.m. in a one-game playoff to decide the automatic regional berth.
It appeared the game might be a real dogfight from the start.
The Warriors built a quick lead, behind a 3-pointer from Lauren Reed and two free throws from Heidi Brown. Handley responded with back-to-back baskets by Angelica Robinson to cut the deficit to 9-4 with seven seconds left in the first quarter.
The Warriors struggled in the first against Skyline Friday night and trailed 21-17 at the half, that helped motivate the team against the Judges.
"I think the kids were clearly focused tonight on playing a lot better than they did Friday night against Skyline," Sherando coach Kevin Reed said.
The Judges kept the game close throughtout the remainder of the quarter, despite nine turnovers in the first four minutes of the game.
The Warriors built the lead to 15-6 with 2:21 left in the opening quarter, led by nine straight points from Reed.
The lead stayed at eight heading into the second quarter. Handley was able to cut it to 21-17 with 5:32 left in the first half.
Sherando then used a 12-0 run to close out the half with a 33-22 lead. Reed and Erin Magalis each had four points during the run.
While the offense struggled at times, it was the Warriors' defense that really made the difference against the Judges.
"I don't get upset if we make mistakes on offense, but where I really get upset is if we miss defensive rotations," Kevin Reed said. "I was proud of how we played on defense tonight."
The lead stayed in double digits throughout the second half. The Judges scored only four points in the third quarter.
Lauren Reed led the Warriors with 22 points, while Brown added 16.
Robinson led the Judges with 12 points, and Tameka Waller added 11.
The Warriors have now won eight of their last 10 games.
"I'm really proud of of our kids with all the adversity they have faced," Kevin Reed said. "We have nine freshman and sophomores and only one junior -- Alaina Combs. We actually have a young team, who aren't as developed physically yet. I'm really proud of how far they've come this season."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org