By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STRASBURG -- Skyline and Luray were both searching for that first victory of the season when they met in the Ram Hardwood Classic at Strasburg on Friday night.
The Hawks were hanging with the Bulldogs for much of the game, but a late third-quarter run helped Luray pull away for a 49-34 boys basketball victory. Luray will play Strasburg in the tournament final tonight at 7:30, and Skyline will play East Hardy (W.Va.) in the consolation game at 6 p.m.
"Credit Luray, they just played hard," Skyline coach Jacob Bates said. "They played very hard. Good competition, good competitive game. We've got to learn to value each offensive and defensive possession a little bit more than we did tonight. So we didn't deserve to get this win."
The Hawks trailed 30-26 with 3:25 left in the third period, but Luray went on a 6-0 run to take a 36-26 lead with 55 seconds left in the third period.
A basket by Skyline's Brandon Walters cut the lead to 36-28 entering the final period.
Walters scored to start the fourth and cut the lead to six. Luray's Joshua Kling and Skyline's Jerrius Baltimore exchanged baskets to give Luray a 38-32 lead with 4:34 left in the game.
The Bulldogs (1-5) ended the game with an 11-2 run. The Hawks had nine turnovers in the final 10 minutes of play.
"We just aren't understanding the value of each and every possession," Bates said. "You can see that in our expressions. You can see that in our play. Had we done so tonight the result would have been a little bit different, I believe."
Luray caused problems for Skyline with its aggressive zone defense and half-court traps. Luray coach Jim Sanders said he felt the play of his defense was the difference in the game.
"I thought defensively we drew some charges, we kept them all from driving," Sanders said. "And we stole some passes. I thought that was really the key."
Both teams struggled offensively throughout the game. Skyline finished with 22 turnovers.
One bright spot for the Hawks (0-7) was the play of Walters, who finished with a career-high 14 points.
"He scored the ball very well," Bates said. "He's got as knack for finding gaps and he made a couple other shots, too. Against that zone they expose those gaps and if you want to catch and score you have that opportunity. And he did a good job of finding those gaps and his teammates did a good job of getting the basketball there. The first thing is wanting the ball, and he wanted it."
The Bulldogs were led by Malcolm Frye with 12 points, while Joshua Good had 11 and Leo Yates had 10.
Sanders said getting that first win was big for his squad.
"It's always huge. Everybody's looking for that 'W,' especially the first one," Sanders said. "It's hard to get that collar off, and this far into the season, we were 0-5 they were 0-6, sometimes it gets a little tight on you. You just want to get it off of you as soon as you can."
The Hawks have another chance to go out and get their first win tonight, and Bates said he's looking forward to it.
"The more we play, the more excited I am for some of these guys," Bates said. "Our young guys are beginning to step up and produce some basketball. Trayquan Diamond does a ton of things out there for us. He may not always show up in the scoring column, but he has the ball in his hands a lot. Jerrius did a great job, I thought, tonight against pressure. He had shown some weaknesses in the past with pressure. Tonight I don't recall him struggling at all in traps. He did a great job extending and creating passing lanes.
"There are some positive things, some good things to talk about, some good things to build on."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd