By Tommy Keeler Jr.
FRONT ROYAL -- Brentsville coach Tim Brown knew it was going to be a good night for senior Heather Kilby just minutes into the game. Skyline coach Jim Kenney knew his team was going to struggle before the game even started.
Both coaches were right as the Tigers pulled out a 54-41 non-district girls basketball victory over the Hawks.
"For whatever reason tonight they just weren't into it," Kenney said of his team. "You can tell going through warm-ups usually, and I could tell during warm-ups they weren't in it -- no energy, no emotion."
The Tigers, especially Kilby, took advantage. Kilby hit two 3-pointers and had a conventional three-point play to give Brentsville a quick 11-3 lead in the first period. Kilby had 20 of her game-high 26 points in the first half.
"That is a typical performance," Brown said of Kilby. "If she hits her first shot -- forget it. If she misses, she's going to have to find it and maybe struggle a little bit until she gets it. If she hits the first and the second and the third -- forget it."
The Hawks responded with 7-0 run to cut the lead to 11-10 with 1:28 left in the first period. Quinn Breeden had three points during the spurt.
A basket by Mackenzie Thompson gave the Tigers a 13-10 lead after the first period. Kilby started the second period off by hitting a 3-pointer and converting another conventional three-point play to help push the lead to 21-10.
The two teams played last week with Brentsville holding off a Skyline rally for a 50-49 victory. Kenney said the players knew the game plan, but did not execute it.
"We went over the scouting report. We knew exactly who was going to do the damage and they let [Kilby] do it," Kenney said. "[In a] 2-3 zone, always know where [Kilby] is and we lose her. Box-and-1, always know where [Kilby] is and she still gets shots off."
The Hawks cut the lead to 24-15 with 4:30 left in the first half on a 3-pointer by Makaela Dawkins and two free throws by Shayne Clifton, but that's as close as the score would be the rest of the game.
Brentsville ended the half on a 12-5 run.
"That was the best first half we've played all season," Brown said. "That was the first half we needed."
Skyline made a run in the fourth period on a 3-pointer by Dawkins, two free throws by Breeden and a basket by Tierra Whitmore to cut the lead to 12, but the Tigers made enough free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
Skyline shot only 7-for-37 (18.9 percent) on two-point shots, and 12-for-22 (54.5 percent) at the free-throw line.
The Tigers advanced to the regional tournament last year, and have most of their team back.
"I think what has helped us mostly has been these girls have been around each other enough," Brown said. "They're used to competition. Their expectations are to reach regionals again, and I think we have a pretty good chance at doing that."
Clifton had 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists to lead the Hawks (2-11, 0-1 Northwestern). Breeden had 11 points and five steals, and Dawkins had 10 points and four steals for Skyline.
Kenney said he has to figure out a way to have his team ready each and every game.
"We seem to play up, down to whoever we're playing," Kenney said. "If we play against this team like we played [last] Friday night over at Sherando -- it's not even close. It's my fault as a coach, for whatever reason, they're not ready to play. They're not attacking, they're not aggressive, they're not rebounding. We're getting beat off the dribble. It's my fault. I've got to figure out a way to change the way some of these girls approach the game of basketball."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or email@example.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd