By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- The heavily favored Sherando Warriors girls basketball team was as cold as the weather in the first half, and the underdog Skyline Hawks took advantage for a four-point lead at the break.
Then the Warriors went volcanic, outscoring the Hawks by 43 points in the second half on the way to a 79-40 win.
The Warriors remain tied with Millbrook at 6-1 for first place in the Northwestern District.
Sherando poured in an impressive 37 points in the third quarter, and added 25 in the fourth.
Warriors freshman guard Lauren Reed (averaging 18.3 points per game) scorched the net for 18 points in the third period and eight in the fourth, tallying six 3-pointers in the second half for a game-high 32 points (along with 11 rebounds and five assists).
Reed even made a rare four-point play, having been fouled on a made trey, and converting the free throw early in the third period. Rare, for most players that is, as it was Lauren Reed's sixth four-point play of the season, according to coach Kevin Reed, her father.
"We needed to get our energy back up and we just needed some little spark and play to get us going," Lauren Reed said. "We've definitely been having harder practices, even after we've had a game. We're probably going to have a playoff game for first place with Millbrook.
"It was definitely a total team effort. We all got in and gave something to the effort."
Sherando (10-10, 6-1 Northwestern) shot a miserable 6-for-24 from the floor in the first half, including a horrid 1-for-11 on 3-pointers.
Sherando didn't get on the scoreboard until sophomore forward Heidi Brown made one of two free throws with 3:21 remaining in the first quarter.
Jessica Hakel followed with the Warriors' only made 3-pointer of the half, and Lauren Reed finally found the bottom of the net with a field goal with 42 seconds remaining in the frame to Sherando an anemic 6-4 lead at the close of the opening frame.
Skyline (4-14, 0-6 Northwestern) apparently smelled a rare opportunity and took the second quarter, 17-11. Shayne Clifton pumped in six points, and Mikala Dawkins added four off the bench to lead the way.
Lauren Reed provided the first spark of magma in the second half, nailing a trey a mere 25 seconds into the third quarter, serving as the harbinger of Sherando's 37-point eruption in the frame.
"At halftime, we just really talked about what we needed to do," Warriors coach Kevin Reed said. "We needed to get our energy back. Those five kids that went out there in the third quarter -- I've coached a long time, and those 37 points in the third quarter was pretty impressive."
Brown added 11 points to the outburst, and finished the night with 15 points, six boards and five blocks.
The Warriors' defense clamped down on Skyline, limiting the Hawks to 13 points in the quarter.
Sophomore guard Jessica Hakel contributed 12 points, nine steals and five assists to the Warriors' effort.
Clifton finished with a team-high 15 points, playing in only her ninth game after recovering from a groin injury.
Sherando established even greater overall dominance in the fourth quarter, reeling off 18 points, capped by Lauren Reed's sixth 3-pointer, before Skyline got on the board with a 1-for-2 free-throw trip by Quinn Breeden.
"It was a really a good first half because we actually played two quarters of good defense," Hawks coach Jim Kenney said. "We were working the ball, meeting the passes and breaking the press. I don't quite know what happened in that third quarter. A lot of turnovers. It's like [Sherando] was everywhere. [Coach] Kevin [Reed] really has them do a good job on that zone press Bottom line is, they're really good. They just had a bad first half, and we had a pretty good first half."
The Warriors cruised to a 63-31 win over the Hawks in their first trip through the District schedule.
The Warriors experienced their first Northwestern District loss of the season, 64-60, to Millbrook on Tuesday, after winning their first meeting against Millbrook, 50-47, ending the Pioneers' 49-game district winning streak.
Millbrook topped James Wood on Friday, 71-49, to remain in a first-place tie with Sherando.
"The reality is, Lauren [Reed's] a terrific player," Kevin Reed said. "She's very fluid in her emotions and actions. She's a great shooter when she gets going. And I could tell, in the first half, she was disappointed in herself, and the one thing she has is a good mental game. And she came out in the third quarter, and she can shoot from pretty deep. And Hakel and Brown showed what a true team is about. When somebody gets hot, they kept finding her."