By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STEPHENS CITY -- The third quarter has been a strong suit for Sherando all season, and on Friday night it proved vital to the Warriors' win over Skyline.
Sherando dominated in the third quarter to pull out a 58-47 victory over Skyline in Northwestern District boys basketball action. The win clinches the Northwestern District regular-season title for the Warriors, and guarantees them a home game in the Region II, Division 4 tournament.
"The third quarter is the most important, I think, in the game of basketball," Sherando senior Aaron Miller said. "Going into halftime, whether you're down or you're up, the third quarter is where teams will really step up and try to do everything they can to win."
The Warriors were up at halftime, but only by three against the Hawks. Sherando then used an 18-4 run to take control of the game.
Sherando coach Garland Williams said they made some adjustments on offense and defense and got the pace of the game the way they wanted it.
"We thought we rebounded the ball better and pushed it up," Williams said. "That's our game. We were able to push it up and get some open looks. We made a few more shots. We definitely were a little more patient on offense."
Miller had eight points during the decisive run, and Tanner Ruths added five. The Warriors beat Skyline 77-47 on Jan. 11 and Miller said the Warriors (14-5, 6-0 Northwestern) didn't play the way they needed to in the first half.
"They caught us by surprise," Miller said. "I don't think we played hard in the first half. We kind of did things nonchalant."
The Hawks (12-7, 1-5 Northwestern) had one last run in them in the fourth quarter. Sherando went almost five minutes without scoring, and the Hawks used a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 54-44 with 4:25 left in the game.
A basket by Taylor Loudan and a jumper by Miller helped seal the win.
Skyline coach Jacob Bates was very pleased with the way his team performed in the first half.
"I'm real happy with our effort," Bates said. "I thought we did a really good job in the first half on the glass minus the first three minutes. After that first two, three minutes I thought we owned the glass in the first half."
Hunter Stewart led the Hawks with nine points. Even though it was another tough loss for the Hawks, Bates said his team is going in the right direction.
"We're getting the looks we want," Bates said. "I'm happy with what we're doing on offense. We're getting the guys the basketball in their strengths. We just got to put the ball through the basket."
Miller had a game-high 18 points for Sherando, while Ruths added 13.
Having the district title wrapped up is a big accomplishment for the Warriors, and one that they were motivated to achieve.
"It feels good," Miller said. "We came up short last year with our two losses to Handley, and it feels good to bring the championship back to Sherando."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org