Vikings run past Hawks

FRONT ROYAL — As badly as Skyline’s girls basketball team struggled against visiting Loudoun Valley on Tuesday evening, the Hawks were still within striking distance at halftime.

Trailing by 10 at the break, Skyline coach Jim Kenney emphasized the importance of a strong start in the third period. But the Vikings struck for a five quick points to open the second half and rolled from there to a 73-35 win.

“Our mantra was to come out and win the first three minutes of the third quarter,” Kenney said. “We came out and in the first three minutes of the third quarter we had four turnovers, we missed two layups and I think they shot six free throws. … That’s not how we want to do our first three minutes of the second half.”

Skyline (0-2) struggled offensively all game, shooting just 24.1 percent (7 of 29) from the floor while turning the ball over 25 times. That inconsistency didn’t bode well for the Hawks’ chances of keeping pace with Loudoun Valley (1-0), which scored 52 points in the second half.

The Vikings, who were led by junior Emily Thompson’s 27 points, shot 51.5 percent in the second half while hitting 23 of 58 shots (39.7 percent) in the game.

“Scoring is going to be an issue for us because we struggle. I told them tonight, we did much better than we did last night against Clarke County but still, we can’t be giving up 70 points,” Kenney said. “I told them, if we give up 70 points every game we’re not going to win a game all year. We’ve got to get our defense a little bit better, our rotation a little bit better.”

Loudoun Valley led 24-14 at halftime, but quickly broke the game open just 30 seconds into the third quarter after Rachel Bowyer hit a pair of free throws and Thompson nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing. That spurred a 12-2 run by the Vikings to start the second half and Loudoun Valley led 42-22 by the end of the third period.

The Vikings outscored Skyline 34-10 in the fourth period.

“I liked our ball movement. Very unselfish,” Vikings head coach Kenyamo McFarlane said. “I liked the way we attacked the glass. We started to realize our height as an advantage. … Everybody chipped in with a rebound. It was a great team rebounding effort. We’d like to finish some of the rebounds, but that will progress. It’s game one, but I’m happy where we’re starting.”

Both offenses were slow to get going in the first quarter, as Loudoun Valley held only a 7-6 lead nearly five minutes into the game. But the Vikings found some success late in the quarter when Thompson started heating up. Thompson scored eight points as part of a 13-2 Loudoun Valley run to close out the final 3 ½ minutes of the first period.

The Vikings couldn’t keep that offensive momentum going in the second period, however, as they went 0 for 10 from the field in the quarter and scored just four points.

That allowed Skyline to keep the game close, as the Hawks cut the Vikings’ lead to eight points with 1:26 left in the second period after two free throws by Rachel Clifton.

Clifton led the Hawks with 10 points to go along with four rebounds, while Nikea Whitmore added nine points for Skyline. Point guard Kima Robinson led the Hawks with six rebounds to go along with her four points.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or