Skyline girls fall to James Wood in finale

Skyline's Nikea Whitmore goes up for a shot over James Wood's Grace Greene during Monday night basketball in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – As has been the case all season for Skyline’s girls basketball team, youth and inexperience showed on the court against visiting James Wood in Monday night’s regular-season finale.

Lacking the offensive firepower to keep pace with the Colonels, Skyline fell victim to a James Wood run midway through the second period that left the Hawks in an 18-point hole. Skyline couldn’t recover in the eventual 57-40 Northwestern District loss on senior night, but Hawks head coach Jim Kenney said it wasn’t for lack of effort.

“Our girls have not not played hard probably a single game this season, but again the things that we’re doing are mental,” Kenney said. “I’m gonna chalk that up to youthfulness. Our seniors get limited playing time except for Makaela Dawkins. … We’re relying on a lot of youngsters – freshmen, sophomores.”

Skyline (6-16), which has lost 12 straight games, trailed James Wood 19-14 following senior Makaela Dawkins’ 3-pointer from the wing with 5:18 left in the first half before Colonels senior Keiana Brooks – who led all scorers with 19 points to go along with eight rebounds and three steals – started a key 13-0 run with a bucket in the paint with five minutes to play in the second quarter.

The run gave James Wood (13-7) a 32-14 lead, and though the Hawks would close the half with a runner by Dawkins and a 3-pointer by Nikea Whitmore to cut the deficit to 13 points heading into halftime, the damage was done. Skyline wouldn’t get any closer the rest of the way.

Skyline's Alana Smith looks up over James Wood's Hannah Burke as Burke stopped her in the lane during fourth quarter action Monday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

“They’ve got some players, man,” Kenney said of James Wood. “The Brooks girl, she just makes it look so easy. She’s so smooth out there, she makes it look so easy. I think their coach, Krista Crites, does a good job coaching them and has them playing at a pretty good level right now.”

James Wood opened the second half with a 7-0 run to take a 39-19 lead midway through the third period. A jumper from the free-throw line by Hawks senior Katelyn Bolt ended Skyline’s 5½-minute scoring drought later in the frame, and a pair of 3-pointers by Amber Wooldridge and Karmen Grimes helped James Wood counter a stickback and a trey by Whitmore and two Mary Poe free throws. A pull-up jumper by Hawks freshman Rachel Sirbaugh sent Skyline into the final period trailing 47-30.

The Colonels pushed their lead to as much as 23 points on two occasions in the fourth quarter.

James Wood shot 35 percent from the floor in the victory while hitting six 3-pointers, while Skyline shot 28.5 percent (from the field.)

“We actually shot pretty good tonight,” Kenney said. “For us, 30 percent from the field is incredible because we’re used to being in the teens shooting. … If we do that against any team in our conference we’re probably gonna win.”

Skyline's Makaela Dawkins floats through the lane with a one hand shot during third quarter action Monday night against James Wood in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

The Colonels also forced 15 turnovers to their 12 and held a sizable advantage on the boards (47-33).

“We usually rebound pretty well,” Crites said. “That’s one of the main things that we work on, is rebounding and getting those second-chance shots and keeping the offense only to one shot.”

Whitmore led Skyline with 14 points and five rebounds, while Dawkins added 10 points – all in the first half – and six rebounds for the Hawks.

Skyline will return to action Friday in the first round of the Conference 28 tournament and will likely be on the road at Brentsville, Kenney said. Kenney added that he likes the Hawks’ chances on Friday if they play with the effort they showed Monday.

“We’ve already been through the gauntlet (of the Northwestern District) of James Wood, Handley, Sherando, Millbrook – eight games that, let’s be honest, we play those eight teams more than likely we’re not gonna win those games. Maybe steal one here or there,” Kenney said. “But I think these games make us battle tough, it gets us ready.”

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

Skyline's Carrie Hotek goes up for a shot as she is fouled by James Wood's Hanniah Burke during fourth quarter action Monday night in Front Royal. Hotek converted on the free throw making it a three point play. Rich Cooley/Daily

Skyline's Rachel Sirbaugh shoots in traffic during fourth quarter action Monday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily