Crosstown Clash: Salyers, Sirbaugh lead Hawks past Wildcats

Skyline's Emma Benson drives through the lane as Warren County's Ariana Lopez defends during first quarter action Friday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Skyline has been searching for a big win and on Friday night the Hawks got it.

Skyline led most of the way and held on at the end to pull out a 45-37 Class 3 Northwestern District girls basketball victory over crosstown rival Warren County. Skyline entered the game having lost six of its last seven contests.

“I thought we played a nice, poised game, leading most of the game that’s hard to do,” Skyline girls basketball coach Jim Kenney said. “It’s hard to do, especially as offensively challenged as we are sometimes. It’s hard to keep the lead for the entire game.”

With the Hawks clinging to a 22-21 lead early in the third period, Skyline’s Colette Salyers and Rachel Sirbaugh took over for their team.

The pair of juniors combined for all 15 points the Hawks scored in the third quarter.

Warren County's Cor'shauna Cunningham looks up to score under the basket as Skyline's Colette Salyers defends during second quarter action Friday night at Warren County High School. Rich Cooley/Daily

Two 3-pointers by Salyers helped the Hawks to go on a 13-4 run and give Skyline a 35-25 lead. Salyers scored 8 points in the third and Sirbaugh added 7.

“I was really motivated,” Salyers said of her third period. “And I knew I had to be a  leader out there when we were losing our lead.”

Skyline took a 37-30 lead into the final period. The Wildcats closed the lead to 37-33 on a free throw by Jayda Saulsbury and a basket by Brianna Hogan.

Sirbaugh closed the game strong, scoring six of the Hawks’ final eight points.

The Hawks (8-9, 2-3 Class 3 Northwestern) were able to slow the game down at the end and made enough foul shots to hold off the Wildcats.

Kenney said he was very happy with the way his team finished the game.

“I thought the last four minutes was the key to the game, because we made some really good decisions,” Kenney said. “Colette (Salyers) Rachel (Sirbaugh) they made some decisions that are very mature. There were a couple times where we could have easily turned the ball over. We had some bad turnovers, but not many. There was a couple times Rachel (Sirbaugh) could have easily tried to make a pass that wasn’t there and she didn’t.”

The Hawks started out strong as they built a quick 6-1 lead, sparked by three points each from Salyers and Sirbaugh.

The Wildcats (6-9, 3-2 Class 3 Northwestern) were able to close the gap to 10-6 at the end of the opening period. The two teams combined for 16 turnovers in the game.

“They were nervous. I could see it,” Kenney said. “A couple of them said they were going to throw up on the floor. This game, as much as you try to downplay it, of course (it means a lot). These girls know each other, they’re friends. Most of the girls on the basketball teams are friends, they hang out. It’s a different sort of situation to be in for them.”

Warren County used a 9-2 run to take a 15-14 edge with 3:37 left in the second period. Cor’shaunna Cunningham had five points during the spurt.

Skyline responded with a 6-0 run to take a 20-15 lead with 2:17 left in the second period. The two teams went back and forth the rest of the period, with the Hawks holding a 22-18 halftime lead.

Warren County girls basketball coach Christine Simmons said the Wildcats’ slow start proved costly.

“I think they came out with more momentum than we had,” Simmons said. “And the momentum, it can carry over a lot in the game. And they had it and they used that to their advantage.”

Cunningham led the Wildcats with 13 points and 5 rebounds, and Brianna Hogan had 10 points and 9 rebounds.

Salyers had a game-high 18 points and Sirbaugh added 16 for Skyline.

Salyers said the win could be a big boost for the Hawks.

“We haven’t been doing that well lately,” Salyers said. “So I feel like this is definitely going to get us back on the page that we need to be on.”

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