Warriors shut down Gaels in second half in win
STEPHENS CITY – At one point during the first half of Sherando’s girls basketball game against visiting St. Maria Goretti (Maryland) on Wednesday, Warriors head coach Mike Marsh turned to his assistant coaches to express his disbelief in how proficient the Gaels were shooting from the perimeter.
Goretti, an out-of-state opponent largely unknown to the Warriors, hit 50 percent of their shots in the first two periods to take a slim lead into halftime. But that pace wouldn’t continue for the Gaels, who cooled off considerably over the last two quarters. Sherando took advantage and rallied for a 49-42 non-conference victory.
“Some of their reserves even were coming off the bench and making shots,” Marsh said of the first half. “I turned around to our coaches and said what the heck, in warm-ups they weren’t even hitting the rim, and they’re out there busting threes and long twos. And we were telling our girls to back off because we figured they were gonna shoot weakly, and they went out there and made shots. They did a good job. You’ve gotta give them credit because they did come down and hit some shots.
“We made the adjustments,” he continued. “We started moving kids. We got a little bit more aggressive on the kids that were scorers, put a little bit more pressure on the basketball.”
That defensive pressure from Sherando (13-7) was enough to limit Goretti to just 13 second-half points, while the Gaels hit only 17.2 percent of their shots in the third and fourth periods.
Goretti (6-14), on the strength of five first-half 3-pointers, took a 29-25 lead into halftime and managed to maintain at least a 2-point advantage through most of the third period before Sherando went on a 9-0 run.
With Sherando trailing 35-30 in the third quarter, Warriors junior Rebecca Travis started the spurt with a bucket in the paint with 2:55 left, and a basket from the low block by Amber Garrett cut the Gaels’ lead to a point heading into the fourth period.
Senior Madison Leckie gave Sherando its first lead since the four-minute mark of the first period when she rattled in a 3-pointer from the wing to give the Warriors a 37-35 lead with 7:35 to play. A deep jumper from the corner by Davina Lane – who led the Warriors with a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds – 30 seconds later gave Sherando a 4-point lead.
“We knew it was gonna be a tough matchup,” Marsh said. “They came out and they got out on us early and we did a good job being patient and letting the game flow to us. All the sudden we’re there where we’re catching up and getting the lead, and we did a good job managing the lead at the end of the game.”
Goretti came back to tie the game at 39-all on a stickback by Elaija Demeza (11 points) and two free throws by Arielle Jean-Jacques (10 points, nine rebounds), but the Warriors would hold the Gaels scoreless for the next five minutes of action, a drought broken by Ama Mitchaul’s 3-pointer with only three seconds remaining in the game.
Lane gave Sherando the lead for good with four minutes left when she got a shooter’s roll on a jumper, and Allison Combs’ spinning shot in the paint gave the Warriors’ a 4-point lead.
Four free throws by Leckie and two more from Lane over the final 44 seconds of the game helped Sherando put it away.
“We’ve really worked on finishing lately and our finishing’s really improved,” said Leckie, who had 13 points. “I’m really glad that we finished tonight.”
Sherando shot 38.5 percent (15 for 39) from the floor in the win and although they turned the ball over 17 times, the Warriors had just one turnover in the fourth quarter.
Despite dominating the boards (Sherando held a 38-26 rebound advantage in the game), the Warriors trailed for all but four minutes of the first half and the entire third period but were able to make the score a one-possession game on multiple occasions while avoiding a double-digit deficit.
“We’ve had that all year. There’s several games we’ve played from behind or played close and we’ve done a good job staying there, right in the competition, and we did tonight too again,” Marsh said. “I think that’s one thing this team does do well is in most cases keeps the game manageable so we have a chance every time.”
Garrett chipped in 5 points for Sherando, Travis had seven rebounds and Combs and Kathryn Robertson added six boards apiece for the Warriors.
Sherando has two games remaining in the regular season against Conference 21 West foes Handley and Harrisonburg. Marsh said no matter what happens in those last two games, the Warriors will be the third seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org