Thorne sets school record, Skyline bests James Wood
By Greg Brill
WINCHESTER — Oshene Kelly keeps up with her post player counterparts throughout the Northwestern District. The Skyline forward knew plenty about James Wood’s rebounding machine, otherwise known as Shannan Thorne, from reading reports in the newspapers.
Kelly had also been versed by her coaches on what to do when trying to contain such a versatile talent like Thorne, who can dominate games from 10 feet in.
Little surprise that Kelly took such a matchup and ran with it.
After Monday night’s 54-46 Skyline win at James Wood, Kelly had plenty to feel good about.
“That was a very big challenge because I think [Thorne] is No. 1 in our district in rebounding and we need [rebounding] to win,” Kelly said. “We’re a very short team, so every rebound counted.”
Skyline won the rebound battle, 36-26.
Besides checking in with a double-double of 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, Kelly and the Hawks made stopping Thorne their No. 1 project.
Most of what Thorne saw early was a man defense, but once the Hawks switched to a 2-3 zone in the second half, Thorne had even fewer touches.
A crucial 9-0 run to end the third period gave Skyline the lead for good, helping the confidence build even more.
“I took a timeout and told them ‘Pack in the zone and run,'” Skyline coach Jim Kenney said. “And they finally listened to me and started running. It was all layups [during the run]. One of these days, they’re going to believe me when I tell them, ‘If you run our break — our secondary break — you’re going to score.’ They do it in spurts.”
Having to play with four fouls in the fourth quarter might have taken some of Thorne’s aggression away, but Skyline did a good enough job to limit her to one field goal over the final eight minutes.
Thorne ended up with 13 points and 12 rebounds, thus breaking the James Wood all-time rebounding record.
No other Colonel had more than eight points.
The Hawks (11-5, 1-2 Northwestern) never trailed in the fourth period, but the Colonels (8-9, 0-4) stayed close until the final seconds.
After the 3:54 mark of the fourth quarter, when guard Hailey DeHaven hit a baseline jumper to pull James Wood to within 52-45, no other Colonel, besides Thorne, made another basket the rest of the way.
In fact, no player out of James Wood’s backcourt made more than two field goals in the game, keeping Skyline in its zone set-up late, and allowing the Hawks to continue paying extra attention to Thorne.
“We don’t do a good enough job of attacking the basket,” James Wood coach Rhonda Slider said. “We look to Shannan, and [Skyline] kind of shut it down a bit inside. They were able to sag back in that zone and take the [entry] pass away from her.
“Our outside guards had to figure out what they were going to do and we don’t really, at this point, have anybody that’s confident enough in themselves, and in their shot, to take the shot from outside.”
Skyline led 23-22 at the half, but the Colonels came out aggressive with their full-court press to start the third period. James Wood scored the first six points as Skyline turned the ball over on its first four possessions.
The run extended to 10-3, for a 32-26 Colonels lead, after a jumper from Sarah Callaham.
The Hawks were down three late in the third when Thorne went to the bench with her fourth foul at the 1:37 mark. When she returned to start the fourth, Skyline had a six-point lead.
To close the third, the Hawks did a good job of finding shooters after pushing up the floor.
Kelly hit a free throw to start a 9-0 run. That freebie was followed by two baskets from Taylor Henry (game-high 19 points), the second coming once Kristina Salazar won a loose ball near midcourt and whipped a pass to a wide-open Henry for a layup.
Salazar (13 points, four assists) then scored on another crisp passing display from the Hawks, Kelly dumped in a layup and Skyline had a 40-34 lead heading to the fourth.
“The run at the end of the third quarter was the best I’ve seen us [have] this season,” Henry said. “We were getting it down quick while they were still coming back off the rebound. Pushing it is what we try to do — and we did it well there at the end of the third.”
To hold off the Colonels in the fourth, the Hawks hit just enough free throws, making 10-of-17 down the stretch to notch their first district win.
Henry sees the Hawks being able to at least make a run for second place in the Northwestern behind Millbrook.
“It was a real good district win,” Henry said. “Second [place], it’s a good spot to be in right behind the [defending Division 3] state champs. We’ll need to cut our turnovers down and keep pushing the ball. If we do that, I think we can get second.”