Skyline girls fall at home to James Wood

Skyline's Colette Salyers drives to the basket as James Wood's Amber Wooldridge defends during first quarter action Wednesday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Skyline High School’s girls basketball team extended its streak of holding opposing teams to less than 50 points to five straight games on Wednesday night against James Wood, and yet Hawks head coach Jim Kenney left the floor feeling his team failed to play defense for the first time all season.

Skyline shrugged off a sluggish start to enter halftime trailing by only 3 points, but the visiting Colonels rolled through a lopsided second half to pick up a 48-35 Northwestern District win and stretch their winning streak over the Hawks (3-2) to eight straight games dating back to 2014.

Though the Colonels (5-1) scored only 24 points in each half, had just five different players score and turned the ball over 20 times in the win, they shot nearly 50 percent in the second half while outscoring the Hawks 24-14 in that span.

“We didn’t play defense. They probably scored, I know, at least 12, 14 points on just layups where nobody rotated over and helped. That bothers me a little bit,” Kenney said. “But it’s my fault. We need to make sure we coach that up a little bit better in practice so that they understand because that’s what we need to do.”

Part of James Wood’s success on offense on Wednesday night could be attributed to the play of sophomore Makayla Firebaugh and senior Amber Wooldridge. The latter scored 10 of her 12 points in the fourth period to help bury the Hawks in a 17-point deficit with less than a minute to play, while Firebaugh torched Skyline for a game-high 20 points to go along with 11 rebounds.

Skyline's Zaryn Rateb shoots over the outstretched arms of James Wood's Savannah Swanner during second quarter action Wednesday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

Kenney said the Hawks didn’t do a good enough job going over the top on screens to keep a defender in Firebaugh’s face on the perimeter, nor on rotating on defense during the Colonels’ pick-and-roll plays, two things Skyline went over in practice in preparation for James Wood.

“(Firebaugh) is a great player. She can slash, she can shoot threes. I mean her 3-point line is a foot behind our 3-point line,” said Kenney, who called James Wood likely the best team Skyline will play in the regular season. “We told the girls, we didn’t see anything that we weren’t expecting and didn’t practice. But it’s different practicing it and then stepping out on the floor and seeing it first hand.”

Firebaugh scored 10 points the first period as James Wood built a 16-6 lead while forcing eight Skyline turnovers.

The Hawks bounced back nicely in the second period, as an 8-0 run began with Zaryn Rateb’s conventional 3-point play on a fast-break bucket, included a 3-pointer from Jordan Kenney and ended with Rachel Sirbaugh’s layup in transition off a Rateb steal that tied the game at 20-all with 4:15 left in the first half.

“It took a lot out of us to get back that,” Jim Kenney said of the Hawks’ overcoming a 10-point deficit in the first half. “At the half we were down three or four, and then we come out again at the beginning of the second half and again, for the first three minutes, we’re not in it.”

Skyline's Rachel Sirbaugh pushes the ball up the floor as James Wood's Emma Van Horn defends during second quarter action Wednesday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

Skyline trailed just 24-21 at the break but mustered only 5 points in the third period as James Wood took a 34-26 lead into the fourth period that grew to as much as 17 points in the final frame.

The Colonels shot 40.4 percent (21 of 52) from the floor, scored 22 points in the paint and dominated the glass for a 41-26 rebounding advantage.

Skyline, meanwhile, shot just 27.3 percent (12 of 44) from the floor and hit only 5 of 29 shots from beyond the 3-point arc. Though 3-pointers accounted for nearly 66 percent of the Hawks’ shot attempts in the loss, Kenney said he was happy with the shot selection and less thrilled about his team’s lack of aggression against Wood’s 3-2 zone.

“I thought we could’ve been much more aggressive and much more in attacking mode, but again you can practice that but when you get in a live game situation things are a little different,” Kenney said. “That’s something we’ve gotta get a little bit better at. Teams are probably gonna zone us up. But again, I thought we had some good opportunities.”

Jordan Kenney led Skyline with 12 points off the bench, while Colette Salyers had 11 points and five rebounds. Sirbaugh had 8 points and Rateb had six steals for the Hawks.

Savannah Swanner had 8 points and 13 rebounds for James Wood.

Skyline returns to action with a home game Friday against Rappahannock County.