Wildcats shut down Tigers

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County’s offense struggled to find consistency in Monday night’s girls basketball game against visiting Brentsville, but the Wildcats’ defense picked up the slack.

The Wildcats forced Brentsville into twice as many turnovers as it had points while holding the Tigers to less than 20 percent shooting from the floor in a 43-16 rout in Conference 28 action.

“That’s kind of the way we wanna play,” Warren County coach John Kelly said. “We have really young guards who are really quick who are able to swarm a little bit around, and we did a lot better job of that tonight than we did last Thursday (in a loss to James Wood).”

Warren County (2-1), which beat the Tigers (0-3) for the second time this season, mixed and matched its defensive looks while consistently putting full-court pressure on Brentsville’s offense. The Wildcats forced 35 turnovers and held the Tigers to a pair of eight-minute scoring droughts, one in each half.

The Wildcats rotated a lot of players in and out throughout the game to keep everyone fresh on the defensive end.

“We have five, six, seven guards who can go out there and just swarm, and they’re actually really good about when someone gets tired they let us know so we’re able to keep someone fresh in there all the time,” Kelly said. “The goal is to put constant pressure on the ball and that causes turnovers in itself. And the second half we were able to capitalize on that.”

Warren County led wire to wire on Monday, as senior Hayley Martin opened with a pair of long jumpers in the opening minute to give the Wildcats a quick 4-0 lead. Warren County, which shot just 27.1 percent (13 for 48) from the floor in the game, wasn’t able to keep up that pace but did manage to extend that lead to 13-3 after one period.

“My shot’s been off a little bit lately so that was a good confidence booster from that,” said Martin, who finished with 9 points and five rebounds.

With the Tigers struggling through the first of their two lengthy scoring droughts, Warren County used a 12-0 run – powered by 6 points from junior forward Arianna Smoot – to push its lead to 20-3 midway through the second period. The Wildcats led 23-9 at halftime.

Warren County effectively put the game out of reach with a lopsided third quarter, out-scoring the Tigers 15-2 in the frame while forcing 14 turnovers, matching Brentsville’s total from the entire first half.

The Tigers turned the ball over on their first 12 possessions of the second half.

“We had a talk in the locker room about (how) we had to step up our defense because we’re still not where we could be,” Martin said. “So that talk definitely boosted us up.”

The third quarter was also the Wildcats’ best in terms of offensive output, as Warren County hit 5 of 16 field goals while senior forward Sam Schroyer and Martin combined for 11 of the Wildcats’ 15 points in the frame.

“We didn’t shoot again,” said Kelly, whose offense also turned the ball over 16 times. “It’s a step in the right direction for us. The third quarter we had a much better shooting game, started to run our offense a lot more.”

Schroyer led Warren County with 10 points to go along with three rebounds, while Smoot had 8 points and three boards. Junior guard Kima Robinson had 5 points and two steals for the Wildcats.

Krista Panone led Brentsville with 5 points, while Megan Garman had nine rebounds. The Tigers held a 43-38 edge in rebounds but shot just 15.8 percent (6 for 38) from the floor.

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