By Jeff Nations
STEPHENS CITY -- Millbrook's boys basketball team was riding high heading into Friday night's matchup against Northwestern District rival.
The Pioneers, fresh off their best win of the season on Tuesday with a stunner against Handley, could with some justification have been eying another upset against the Warriors. Sherando doused those hopes early and often with a steady rain of made jumpers, made layups, made 3-pointers and made free throws as the Warriors jumped out to a commanding lead early and never let up in an 80-58 victory.
Sherando (6-8, 4-2 Northwestern) hit an astounding 33 of 46 field-goal attempts (72 percent) with a deadly inside-outside combination that crumpled the Pioneers' zone, overwhelmed their man and dissected their press all night.
"The guys shot well," Sherando coach Garland Williams said. "We were hoping we'd get a night like that because we felt like we have some guys that can shoot the ball. We've been shooting the ball halfway decent in practice."
The Warriors came out blazing from beyond the 3-point arc, hitting 5 of 8 3-pointers in the first half. That, combined with the steady production down low from 6-foot-7 frontcourt mates Grant Golden and Jeremiah Curtis, plus a healthy dose of slashing drives from point guard Isaiah Williams made for a long night for Millbrook (3-14, 1-3 Northwestern).
Pioneers coach Derek Butler admitted that Sherando, which won the first meeting between the schools this season by 20 points, is a tough matchup with their size advantage. Butler still expected more effort on the defensive end, which he described as "awful."
"We didn't provide any resistance, for the most part, and that's disappointing when you're coming off a good win against Handley," Butler said. "We hadn't had a lot of wins, and I think we kind of thought we were a little better than we were. So maybe this was a little reality check tonight."
An early 9-2 run to open the game put Sherando up from the start, and they simply built from there. Golden (game-high 24 points) had seven in the first quarter as Sherando pushed ahead 20-7.
"We came out ready and we knew what they were going to try and do," Golden said. "We did a pretty good job of stopping them tonight."
The Warriors stayed red-hot in the second quarter, draining 8 of 10 from the field. Jordan Henry (10 points) and Dilan Heskett both connected on treys, Williams stopped and popped a jumper in the lane, Golden worked the blocks down low for two more buckets and Kyle Tusing slashed in for a layup as the Warriors piled up a 38-16 halftime lead.
Millbrook never did make a run after that, falling behind by as many as 27 in the third quarter. A solid second-half from the Pioneers' Zachary Harrell (19 points) softened the final somewhat, but it was never in doubt.
"We came out with a little hunger," said Isaiah Williams, who finished with 15 points.
Curtis also had a solid night with 10 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks as he combined with Golden to give the Warriors a dynamic inside game.
"Grant and Jeremiah, they work hard together in practice," Williams said. "They're really good friends and they feed off each other in the game. They know which one's hot and which one's not, and they work really well together on the high-low."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com>