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Holding court: Porter’s 21 leads Warriors in romp

By Brian Eller – beller@nvdaily.com

STEPHENS CITY — When Skyline coach Sonny Dyke was forced to use his second timeout with two minutes left in the first quarter, the message for his players served as a reality check. Across the gymnasium, Tre Porter’s layup had just pushed Sherando’s lead to 17 points. The Hawks, meanwhile, had yet to score a point.

So while Dyke had a few words for his struggling team, Warriors coach Garland Williams had a message of his own for his group. They may have climbed out to a huge lead, but against a lethal shooting team like Skyline, no cushion was too comfortable.

“Coach told us to make sure we didn’t take our foot off the gas,” Porter said. “We knew Skyline is a good team and they have some shooters, so we had to keep pressing and not let them start to get any momentum.”

If keeping the proverbial team foot on the pedal would ensure Skyline never got into rhythm, Sherando slammed down hard Friday night. Behind a game-high 21 points from Porter and 16 more from big man Terry Wood, the Warriors demolished the Hawks, 69-37.

It’s been a roller-coaster season for Sherando thus far, with inconsistent play translating to a brilliant performance one night, followed by a complete dud the next. And after scoring just 46 points in Wednesday’s loss to Millbrook, it was hard to tell which Sherando team was going to show up against the Hawks.

It didn’t take long, however, to see this Sherando team was the one capable of winning the Northwestern District. In the opening quarter, Porter led the charge for the home team, hitting his first four shots and scoring 10 points in the period. Teammate Jalen Harris added seven more in the post as Sherando jumped out to a commanding 17-0 lead, leaving the Hawks searching for answers on both ends of the floor.

“They just whipped us tonight from start to finish,” Dyke said. “They beat us to loose balls, controlled the boards all night and we tried several different things on offense, but they weren’t effective. I give all the credit to them. We knew how good they were and knew they were going to come in ready to play, especially after the loss to Millbrook, and we just got whipped.”

Whipped may be putting it nicely. After managing only four points in the first quarter, Skyline’s offense managed six in the second quarter, but 16 more points from Sherando, including seven from George Asare, pushed the Warriors’ lead to 23 points at halftime.

By the time the Hawks’ offense began to connect on some shots, the hole they had dug themselves was too deep. Zack Henry scored eight of his team-high 10 points in the third quarter, but 10 points from Wood kept the Warriors comfortably ahead, aided by a significant edge in rebounding that allowed Sherando to attempt several shots on a single offensive possession.

“That was big for us and that’s something we paid more attention to this week in practice,” Sherando coach Garland Williams said. “We know we have size, but having size doesn’t equal a rebound, so we put an emphasis on that and we were able to do that effectively tonight.”

Even with a 24-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Warriors kept the pressure on. Sherando forced six turnovers over the final eight minutes, and six more points from Porter helped the home team roll to the win.

Harris finished with 15 points in the win, one of eight Sherando players to score on the night. Ryan Dyke had nine points for the Hawks, but was one of just five Hawks to score. Cameron Taylor had eight points while Joey Neidigh and Eli McEathron finished with five.

“They’d better learn from this game,” Dyke said. “We’re disappointed with the way we played, but we’re not discouraged. We know we’ll get a chance to see them again and we’ll be ready for that, but for now we’ve got a game tomorrow so we’ll look ahead to that.”