Hawks fall in final seconds to Colonels

Skyline's Antwan Swain takes the ball down the lane as James Wood's Samuel Hopkins defends during second quarter action Monday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – James Wood boys basketball coach Tim Wygant said he felt a bit lucky his team walked out of Skyline’s gymnasium victorious Monday night. Hawks coach Jeff Monroe likely felt his team was a bit unlucky, as well.

In a contest that turned into a game of runs on Skyline’s senior night, James Wood was the beneficiary of a pair of favorable calls in the final five seconds of its 50-48 Northwestern District victory.

With the game tied at 48-all with 23.6 seconds remaining, Skyline patiently milked the clock looking for the game’s final shot, only to turn the ball over on a traveling violation with five seconds remaining. After three timeouts in a span of less than three game seconds, the Colonels had a chance to inbound the ball at half-court with 2.8 seconds showing on the clock.

Colonels senior Colin Watts didn’t even need to attempt the inbound pass, as teammate Aidan Houser collided with Skyline senior TrayQuan Diamond coming off a screen, drawing a foul call and getting sent to the line for a 1-and-1 attempt. Houser hit both free throws, and Evan Lester’s desperation heave from half court caromed off the side of the rim as the Colonels escaped with the 2-point victory.

“Tough call at the end of the game,” Monroe said. “Good teams make the plays when they have to, you know, and they made their plays when they needed to. My guys, they fought to the end, you know. It’s just one of those breaks. It goes the other way, hey, we might have a chance of winning it.”

Skyline's Evan Lester works through a double team by James Wood's Samuel Costin, left, and Noah Sullivan, right, during first quarter action Monday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

James Wood (13-8) took a 25-18 lead into halftime before both teams started trading scoring runs in the third period. Skyline opened the second half with an 8-0, which featured a fast-break layup by Diamond sandwiched between 3-pointers from Colin Smith (11 points) and Antwan Swain, to take a 27-26 lead.

The Colonels came right back with a 9-0 run over the next 1:15 of game action, as two buckets by Chandler Brooks (game-high 14 points), a 3-pointer by Andrew Hinebaugh and a baseline jumper by Randolph Jackson gave James Wood a 34-26 lead with 4:29 left in the third period.

Not to be outdone, Skyline (8-14) countered with a 9-1 run to close out the quarter, as back-to-back buckets by Swain tied the game at 35-all heading into the final period.

“We just told them we had to be active and try to take away some things,” said Monroe, whose defense had five steals in the third quarter and forced nine second-half turnovers. “We knew Brooks was gonna be a big part of their team and we tried to limit as many touches as possible for him. We just tried to be active. Our guys came up the second half and got on a run right off the bat. That was probably (the) best start we’ve had in the second half all year.”

James Wood staked a 42-39 lead with six minutes remaining but Swain, who scored 12 of his team-high 13 points in the second half, delivered on a nice entry pass into the paint by Lester and converted a traditional 3-point play to the tie the game with 4:15 left.

Skyline's TrayQuan Diamond shoots a running hook shot inside the lane during fourth quarter action against James Wood Monday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

Diamond, who had four steals in the second half to go along with 11 points and six rebounds, answered Brooks’ fast-break layup off his own steal with a pair of free throws to tie the game at 44, and later drove through traffic for a bucket in the lane to knot the score at 46-all with 1:36 to play.

Diamond made two more free throws with 36 seconds left after pulling down an offensive rebound on Lester’s missed foul shot to give the Hawks a 2-point lead, but James Wood came back to tie the game with two free throws by Jackson with 23.6 seconds left before Houser’s winning foul shots.

“I’ll tell you what, this gym is a tough place to play,” Wygant said.

“Basketball is a game runs,” he continued. “… In that particular situation what we need to do is we need to shorten runs as much as possible. It makes for fun basketball, but their goal was the same thing – switch up some defenses, which is why we mixed in some man and some press to try to dictate the timing a little bit. For the most part it was effective. Both sides, both defenses I think played fairly well.”

James Wood shot 39.2 percent from the field in the victory while holding a slim 26-25 advantage on the glass. Skyline shot 52.8 percent (19 for 36) from the field, including an 11-for-17 mark in the second half, although the Hawks did turn the ball over 20 times.

Skyline's Antwan Swain shoots over James Wood's Samuel Hopkins during second quarter action Monday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

Skyline returns to action Thursday in the Conference 28 tournament quarterfinals against cross-town rival Warren County at 6 p.m. The teams split two regular season meetings that came down to the final possession.

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

Skyline's Maximilian Meador looks to make a pass in the air as James Wood's Colin Watts defends during second quarter action Monday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

Skyline's Matthew Burke is sandwiched between James Wood's Colin Watts, left, and Chandler Brooks, right, during last night's game in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily