Late three-pointers help Hawks sink Wildcats

FRONT ROYAL — After struggling to find much of an offensive rhythm in the first half against host Warren County on Friday night, Skyline’s boys basketball team hit its groove in the second half.

The Hawks knocked down five 3-pointers in the second half — including three treys in the fourth quarter — and Skyline was able to pull away from the Wildcats for a 51-39 win over its cross-town rival. It was the Hawks’ third straight win after starting the season 0-4.

“It was a rough first half. My teammates played big, rebounded, started to box out better in the second half and then towards the end we started driving, kicking, hitting open shots,” said Hawks freshman Colin Smith, who hit a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth period. “My teammates were driving and drawing the defense and kicking out for shots. We started knocking them down.”

Skyline (3-4) led 36-35 at the end of the third period, but used a 12-2 run over the next five minutes to extend its lead to double digits.

Hawks senior Jamal Parker started the run by sinking a pair of free throws with 5:58 remaining, and Smith — who finished with 10 points — pushed Skyline’s lead to seven points with back-to-back 3-pointers with 4:35 to play.

Parker capped the run — which was fueled in part by the driving and kick-out ability of junior guard TrayQuan Diamond — with a 3 of his own from the corner that gave Skyline a 48-37 lead with three minutes left.

“The difference was we knocked down some shots and we were able to get the tempo that we wanted to play,” Hawks coach Jacob Bates said. “Obviously they pack it into a zone and they want to slow guys down, but we want to get up and down more than that. You can’t generate tempo without rebounding the basketball. … I’m not going to say we did a great job because we still did not, but we did a little bit of a better job defensively, rebounding so we could get out and run.”

Warren County, which matched Skyline nearly point for point for the first three quarters, scored only four points in the fourth quarter on 1 of 8 shooting from the floor. The Wildcats’ (1-7) chances weren’t helped when sophomore Cameron Ford — who had 16 points to lead all scorers — went down with a calf cramp with 3½ minutes left to play and didn’t return.

“It didn’t help,” Wildcats head coach Vernon Mathews said of losing Ford. “… Not only do we lose Cam, but then we have kind of go with some defense and take out some offense and just hope to create some turnovers and stuff. So a couple of our kids that are decent scorers weren’t on the floor either.”

Both teams struggled to score early on, as the game was tied at 11-11 after the end of the first quarter and 19-19 at halftime.

The pace picked up in the third quarter as both teams combined to score 33 points.

Ford kept the Wildcats afloat in the frame, as he scored 10 points that included a pair of 3-pointers, the first of which gave Warren County a 26-23 lead four minutes left in the quarter.

Skyline immediately answered with back-to-back 3-pointers by Smith and Evan Lester to reclaim the lead.

The Hawks hit 5 of 8 3-pointers in the second half after missing on eight first-half attempts from beyond the arc. Skyline finished with a 47.2-percent (17 for 36) shooting mark from the floor in the win.

“We started out sluggish. It’s definitely been an emotional week and I was a little leery of a letdown,” said Bates, referring to the Hawks’ nail-biting win over Handley earlier this week. “In a rivalry game you take it any way you can get it, and you know some things are going to go your way and some things aren’t going to go your way. We had some different guys step up tonight, which was nice.”

Smith added six rebounds to go with his 10 points, while Parker finished with 10 points and five rebounds. Antwan Swain and Brandon Walters (seven rebounds) led the Hawks with 11 points.

D’andre Lawrence scored 10 points for Warren County in the loss.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com