Walters’ third-quarter surge lifts Hawks past Falcons
FRONT ROYAL — Once Skyline stuck to the game plan, everything went their way.
The Hawks controlled the paint in the second half to rally for a 63-54 victory over Central on Monday night.
Skyline center Brandon Walters scored at will in the third quarter, with 15 of his team-high 21 points coming in the third period.
“My point guards did a great job getting me the ball,” Walters said of his career-high effort. “We just had to execute. We knew going into the game that we had a huge advantage inside.”
Skyline (1-5) shot 75 percent (18-for-24) in the second half to erase a six-point halftime deficit.
The Falcons had a couple turnovers to start the second half, and Skyline took advantage. Walters scored inside, and Evan Lester’s steal and layup cut the lead to 26-24.
Central’s Joey McConkey answered with a 3-pointer, but Walters scored on back-to-back baskets inside to cut the lead to 29-28 with 4:43 left in the third period.
“[Getting the ball inside] was the game plan all along, but we didn’t do a good job of that in the first half,” Skyline coach Jacob Bates said. “Sometimes Brandon doesn’t use his frame the way he needs to, but in the second half he played much better.”
After a 3-pointer by Central’s Austin Fadely, who had a game-high 25 points, Walters scored again on back-to-back possessions, including a three-point play to give Skyline a 33-32 lead with 3:47 left in the third period.
Bates said he noticed his bench come to life on the conventional three-point play.
“I saw all the guys in the bench jump and get excited like in college. They had some enthusiasm,” Bates said. “I was really happy with that. The guys stayed positive tonight.”
The two teams traded baskets throughout the rest of the third period. A 3-pointer by Colin Smith gave Skyline a 45-42 lead entering the final eight minutes.
The 3-pointer started a 10-0 run, which helped the Hawks pull away. Skyline forward Atwan Swain scored five points during the run, and eight of his 13 points in the final period.
“Me and Antwan we’re trying to do our best inside,” Walters said. “We tried to do well on the boards to help the team out.”
The Hawks were able to maintain at least a nine-point lead the rest of the way.
Central (3-3) held a 10-point lead late in the second quarter, but Skyline’s height advantage was too much to overcome.
“When we talked at halftime I told the kids the only way we lose this game is if they beat us on the glass,” Central coach Brandon Shields said. “And boy did they beat us on the glass.”
McConkey had 13 points for the Falcons, who hit eight 3-pointers in the game. Central plays again on Thursday at Clarke County.
“We’ve only had one practice in the last 10 days, so [two days of practice] will be good for us,” Shields said. “It will give us a chance to fine tune some things that we want to do.”
Walters had 10 rebounds to go with his points. Skyline’s Jamal Parker had seven of his 11 points in the second period to help the Hawks finish the half strong.
Bates said he was very happy with the way the players responded in the second half en route to their first win of the season.
“I was very proud of the resiliency they showed in the second half,” Bates said. “They were disappointed with themselves in the first half, because they knew they could play better. They didn’t need any outside motivation.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org