Warriors use defense to roll through Titans

Sherando's Heidi Brown drives to the basket during a game against Dominion last season. Brown has officially made the Virginia Tech women's basketball roster. Rich Cooley/Daily file

STEPHENS CITY – It’s been about defense all season long for Sherando’s girls basketball team. On Tuesday night against visiting Dominion, the Warriors once again put that emphasis to work.

The Warriors forced 32 turnovers and held the Titans to a 23.8-percent shooting mark from the floor, all while using a fast start to easily coast past Dominion for a 59-29 non-district win.

“We’re aggressive and we’re lengthy. The girls are starting to get a real good feel for how we’re trying to play our defensive sets and because of that they know when they can take chances,” said Warriors head coach Mike Marsh, whose team effectively utilized full-court zone pressure for most of Tuesday night’s victory.

“They’re starting to get a real feel for our trapping game and because of that, it makes us more effective and we can jump on some teams real quick.”

Sherando set the tone early against the Titans, racing out to an 18-5 lead after the first period of play. Dominion opened its night with a 3-pointer by sophomore Lila Najmyar in the game’s first 30 seconds, but the Warriors held the Titans without a field goal for the remainder of the period and forced nine turnovers in the frame.

Sherando's Jessica Hakel drives past Dominion's Amanda Valenzuela, left, and Andrea Pena, right, during first half girls basketball action Tuesday night in Stephens City. Rich Cooley/Daily

A bucket in the paint by senior Audra Sites jump-started the 18-2 Sherando run that carried through the final 6:45 of the first period. Five different Warriors scored points during the run, including five from senior Heidi Brown and four apiece from Erin Magalis and Madison Leckie.

“That’s always our goal, to jump out to the big start like that,” said Warriors senior Jess Hakel, who led Sherando with 17 points, six steals and five assists. “What helped us was the defense, of course, but we shared the ball really well and got open shots for each other. That’s what helped get that big boost.”

The Warriors continued its run early in the second period, as sophomore Davina Lane opened the quarter with a 3 and turned a steal into a fast-break layup to give Sherando a 23-5 lead.

Dominion made its second field goal of the game on Monica Boyd’s stickback with 6:15 left in the second quarter, but Sherando (12 total steals) didn’t allow another field goal in the half while forcing 11 more turnovers in the frame.

The Titans shot 16.7 percent in the first half and made 10 of 42 shot attempts in the game.

Sherando's Erin Magalis fires a pass across Dominion's Bailey Hartzel during Tuesday night girls basketball action in Stephens City. Rich Cooley/Daily

“We definitely stepped up our defense. We obviously came out more aggressively because we knew that rebounding was one of the things that we needed to work on,” said Brown, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds for the Warriors. “Getting steals and everything just really helped.”

Sherando added on to its lead by outscoring the Titans 18-6 in the third period, and the Warriors led by 30 points by the end of the quarter.

The Warriors shot 34.5 percent (19 for 55) from the field in the win and missed several opportunities for easy points in transition, a flaw that has plagued Sherando since the start of the season. But Sherando did shoot well at the free-throw line, making 16 of 20 attempts, and helped make up for some of its offensive woes by swiping 12 steals.

“We missed some shots we should’ve made. It was the transition shots, the ones that hurt us,” Marsh said. “But at the same time we’re causing so much havoc on the floor that we can afford some. The thing about it is … against quality teams we have to convert instead of miss. We do that and we’re going to be pretty tough.”

Sites (six rebounds, three assists) and Lane (three steals) each finished with seven points apiece for the Warriors, while Magalis added six points.

Boyd and Najmyar led Dominion with eight points each.

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