Warriors rely on defense in victory over Skyline

Sherando's Heidi Brown drives to the basket during a game last season. Brown earned a spot on Virginia Tech's women's basketball roster and will play for the Hokies this season. Rich Cooley/Daily file

FRONT ROYAL — With the offense struggling early on, Sherando used its defense to pull away from Skyline on Friday night.

The Warriors used two big first-half runs in a 72-29 Northwestern District girls basketball victory over the Hawks.

“Defense is our deal,” Sherando coach Mike Marsh said. “I thought we played solid defense. We were able to get some turnovers and score some points off that.”

Sherando (3-2, 1-0 Northwestern) started off a little slow, but senior Audra Sites ignited a spark in the team. Marsh said he was worried going into the game because the Warriors had a road game on Thursday night.

Sites was able to get to the free-throw line on back-to-back possessions. She made all four free throws to start the scoring.

Sherando's Audra Sites puts pressure on Skyline's Nikea Whitmore during first half girls basketball action Friday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

After a basket by Skyline’s Rachel Clifton, Sites hit a 3-pointer for a 7-2 lead with 4:09 left in the first quarter.

“That’s what she does,” Marsh said of Sites’ first quarter. “She really gave us a lift, with her athleticism, her hustle. Audra had a super first quarter. When she she came over to the bench after the first quarter I turned to her and said, ‘Wow.’ That’s all you could say, it was a great first quarter.”

Back-to-back baskets by Clifton cut the lead to 7-6 with 3:03 left in the first period.

The Warriors then went on a 17-0 run that bridged into the second quarter. Sherando was able to create turnovers, which led to scoring opportunities on the offensive end.

Sherando senior Heidi Brown drained two 3-pointers during the run.

Skyline's Kima Robinson shoots over Sherando's Jessica Hakel during first half girls basketball action Friday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

“I knew we were going to struggle on offense, but what I’m upset with is our defense,” Skyline coach Jim Kenney said. “We have to play better defense.”

The Hawks (0-5, 0-1) battled back in the second period. Skyline sophomore Nikea Whitmore made two free throws and hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 23-11 with 5:11 left in the first half.

Sherando responded with a 15-5 run to close out the half. Brown had six points during the spurt, which helped give Sherando a 38-16 halftime lead.

The Warriors had 18 steals in the game, and each of Sherando’s starters had three steals.

Skyline was led by Rachel Clifton with seven points.

“We have to get better defensively,” Kenney said. “We have three games next week against Central, Handley and Warren County. Like I told the girls, that’s three opportunities we have to get better.”

Sherando was led by Brown with 23 points, five rebounds and three steals. Sites finished with 11 points, six rebounds and three steals. Jess Hakel had 13 points and three steals, and Erin Magalis had seven points and four assists.

“It’s early in the season, and there’s still things we can work on and improve on, but I feel like we’re playing well,” Marsh said. “These last couple games we’ve really started to play better.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com