Skyline girls top Warren County in low-scoring affair

FRONT ROYAL — It was one of the lowest-scoring high school varsity girls basketball games you’ll ever see. And it played right into Skyline’s favor.

The Hawks, losers of seven straight games to start the 2014-15 season, got exactly what they needed on the road on Friday night. It was hardly pretty, but Skyline’s winless streak ended with a 26-17 win over cross-town rival Warren County.

“We’re not strong offensively. They’re not strong offensively. And we knew we were going to both play zone,” Hawks head coach Jim Kenney said. “I thought we honestly turned the tide when we put full-court pressure on them [in the second half]. I thought that was really the difference in the game. We decided that we were going to try to do that, put some pressure on them.

“We made some turnovers. We made some big shots when it mattered, some free throws when it mattered.”

Both teams were content with sitting back in zone defenses for most of Friday night’s game, and both offenses were extremely patient in the first half with not much to show for it on the scoreboard. Warren County (4-4) led 9-7 at halftime, but it was the Hawks (1-7) that made the most effective adjustments in the second half.

It was nothing flashy, but Skyline made 28 percent of its shots in the second half after hitting on only 12 percent of its field goals in the first two periods. Most importantly, the Hawks kept Warren County’s offense in check.

The Wildcats shot only 13.5 percent (5 for 37) from the floor in the loss and never scored more than five points in a period. The result was Warren County’s lowest offensive output in head coach John Kelly’s career at the school.

“We were passive-aggressive like crazy. That was the most passive-aggressive game I’ve been a part of,” Kelly said. “We actually had excellent passing tonight. Up until the fourth quarter we kept our turnovers low, but once we got the ball in a scorer’s hands they were looking to pass. No one wanted to attack the basket. We had three goals tonight. One was to attack the basket. One was to rebound. The other was foul shots. We failed in all three.”

Skyline twice tied the game up in the third period on jumpers by junior Jakya Jones, but the Hawks didn’t take their first lead of the game until Rachel Clifton converted a bucket on a baseline drive at the buzzer to end the quarter.

The Hawks then methodically extended the lead from there while Warren County hit only 1 of 12 shots from the field and turned the ball over four times.

“Me personally, I was off completely [in the first half],” said Jones, who scored seven points in the fourth period and led the Hawks with a game-high 11 points. “I don’t know why. I guess I wasn’t feeling it and my teammates kind of were off, too. I guess all of us were shooting pretty bad. Then we finally got hyped from the crowd and we just had fun. We started dropping shots.

“I think we just went at it harder than we did in the first half.”

Skyline held Warren County senior Autumn Troxell to only five points in the game — which still led the Wildcats’ scoring — while Paige McLachlan had four points for the Wildcats.

Warren County’s best offensive output came in the second period, when the Wildcats scored five points.

“I’ll be honest, a couple times we got lucky,” Kenney said. “We just flat out got lucky. They had some good looks, because they had some good looks and they just couldn’t knock them down.”

Clifton, a freshman, finished with eight points for Skyline, while sophomore Nikea Whitmore tallied six points for the Hawks.

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