FRONT ROYAL – Skyline came into Thursday night’s game with crosstown rival Warren County focused from the opening tip and it showed.
The Hawks built a lead in the second period and pulled away for a 64-50 victory over the Wildcats in a Conference 28 boys basketball tournament quarterfinal. The Hawks will likely play top-seeded Culpeper on Tuesday in the conference semifinals. Culpeper plays its quarterfinal on Friday.
“Today before the game we had a lot of energy,” Skyline senior TrayQuan Diamond said.
The Hawks used that energy against the Wildcats. Warren County started off with a 6-3 lead, led by four points from Cam Ford.
The Hawks (9-14) responded with a 12-3 run. They had five different players score during the spurt, which was a sign of things to come.
A 3-pointer by Warren County’s Clyde Ritchie cut the lead to 15-12 after the first period.
The Wildcats (8-15) kept it close early in the second period as a shot by Ford cut the lead to 19-15 with 5:30 remaining in the first half.
Then the Hawks got a spark from an unlikely source. Skyline senior Ted Casile scored nine straight points for the Hawks during an 11-5 run.
“Ted stepped up big, dropped a couple buckets in there,” Skyline’s Colin Smith said. “That hyped us up a little more — we’re not used to seeing him score a lot.”
Skyline coach Jeff Monroe said he’s known Casile, who generally comes off the bench, was capable of that all season.
“Ted’s got a lot of ability, and I told the kid all year long he’s got a lot of ability,” Monroe said. “I told him ‘I probably believe in you, more than you believe in yourself sometimes.’ He stepped up tonight. He made some big baskets for us there.”
The Wildcats were able to cut the deficit to 32-23 at the half. Warren County shot 29.2 percent (7-for-24) in the first half, while Skyline shot 46.2 percent (12-for-26).
“That was the difference in the game. We just never could get the ball to fall,” Warren County coach Tony Clark said. “… In the start of the game I felt like we had some nice looks. We got the shots that we wanted. We just couldn’t get any to fall.”
It was more of the same in the second half. Skyline’s Evan Lester and Antwan Swain hit back-to-back 3-pointers and the Hawks led by at least double digits the rest of the way.
Monroe said it was nice to see the consistency from his squad.
“I thought it was the first time we played a complete game,” Monroe said. “We came off the (James) Wood game (on Tuesday) playing real well, and the kids came in focused tonight. We got a lead there and kept the lead. Not only kept it, but we also built on it. That’s the first time we did that all year.”
Warren County was led by Ford with 22 points, four rebounds and three steals, and Ritchie with 16 points.
The Wildcats’ season comes to an end with an 8-15 record. First-year coach Clark said that he believes his team will be better next year. He said that the team will miss their four seniors — Ritchie, Robert Rutherford, Joseph Rutherford and Darrell Mills.
“Those four seniors are great kids,” Clark said. “You can’t ask for anything more from them. They’re like the easiest kids to coach, coachable, hard workers, great manners, great personalities, good kids. So, we’ll miss them.”
Skyline had four players in double figures. Diamond led the Hawks with 17 points, eight rebounds and four steals, while Smith had 13 points. Swain had 12 points and seven rebounds, and Casile had 11 points for the Hawks.
Monroe said he’s very pleased with the way his team has been playing lately.
“We’re playing better, other than the Millbrook game, I felt like we’re playing some of our best ball right now,” Monroe said. “I felt like the guys are a little more confident in what we’re doing. Anything can happen.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org