Warriors fall to Raiders

STEPHENS CITY — Sherando and Loudoun County have met in the postseason the last two years, but on Wednesday the two squared off in an early-season battle.

Sherando found itself in foul trouble in the second half, and a lack of defensive rebounding led to a 58-47 win for Loudoun County in girls basketball action.

“Our problem right now is we don’t rebound on the defensive end at all,” Sherando coach Mike Marsh said. “It’s effort. Right now we’re not putting the effort out on the defensive end, that we’re putting out on the offensive end. Until that flips over we’re not going to accomplish the goals we have in mind.”

A 3-pointer by Audra Sites to start the second half gave Sherando its biggest lead of the game, 29-25.

The Raiders answered with a 9-0 run. Elisabeth Gianelos scored six points during the spurt for Loudoun County. Gianelos had a game-high 18 points.

“She had a big game finishing plays,” Loudoun County coach Derek Fisher said of Gianelos. “I think there were a lot of possessions where we did a lot of things well, and then she finished off the possessions or shot the free throws. It was kind of team basketball, where multiple people touched the ball. She made some hustle plays and finishing some stuff around the hoop. She’s not super tall, but she plays with effort and intensity, and she’s getting better at finishing in there around the basket.”

Sherando senior Heidi Brown hit a 3-pointer and a free throw to cut the lead to 34-33 with 4:15 left in the third period, but foul trouble took its toll on the Warriors.

Five players, including four starters, had three fouls with 3:47 left in the third period. Marsh had to give more minutes to some of the reserves, but was happy with how they did.

“Our reserves went in and they did a good job,” Marsh said. “They kept us in the game. They didn’t hurt us. They played well. Our starting five, starting six do a lot of the scoring. Other girls have to step up and play well too, and I thought they did.”

The Raiders (3-1) were able to build the lead to eight points, but Sherando’s starters came back in the game and were able to trim the lead to four at the end of the third period.

A driving layup by Sites cut the lead to 43-41 with 6:34 left in the game. The Raiders scored six consecutive points to stretch the lead back to eight with 3:35 left. A steal and a layup by Jess Hakel cut the lead to 49-43 with 2:57 remaining, but that’s as close as the Warriors would get.

“It’s difficult for both teams to have such a meaningful game so early,” Fisher said. “It’s the only time we play each other all year. It was one of those back and forth games. It could have went either way.”

Natalie Villaflor had 12 points off the bench for the Raiders. Loudoun County lost Maggie Phillips, who was an all-state player, to graduation, and Fisher said the leadership is a little different this season.

“She led us on the floor and off the floor and on the bus and at the team dinner,” Fisher said with a laugh. “We’re a veteran team, but we’re a growing team. That leadership is more collective than one person. So, it’s a different dynamic, and we told them it’s December 17th. We’re happy that we won this game, but everybody’s got a long way to go to try and get better.”

Hakel had 13 points to lead the Warriors (3-4), while Brown had 12. Marsh said the loss was a good lesson for his squad.

“We have to get better at the things that we’re failing to do well,” Marsh said. “If we can do that, we’ll be fine. We’re a very talented basketball team. We have great kids who work hard in practice, but were not translating that practice to the game, and when we do you’ll see a different ball club — one that may be unstoppable, but until then we’re going to struggle.”

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