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Defense ignites Falcons to victory over Hawks

Ayanna Strother

WOODSTOCK — Central’s been trying to find its defensive game lately and on Wednesday night the Falcons found it.

The Falcons held Skyline scoreless for the entire first period en route to a 47-25 non-district girls basketball win.

“It feels great,” Central senior Ayanna Strother said. “To look up and see a zero, it feels like all of our hard work is paying off in practice. Because we do practice a lot on defense.”

Central girls basketball coach Bryan Scott said his team did not play well defensively in a loss to Madison County last week, and he made defense a top priority in practice this week.

The Falcons (5-7) used a 3-2 zone to cause problems for the Hawks, who were 0-for-6 from the field in the opening quarter.

Kendall Herbaugh

Skyline’s Emma Benson scored with 5:18 left in the second quarter for the Hawks first points of the contest. It was Skyline’s only points of the first half.

Skyline was 1-for-14 from the field in the first half.

Central junior Kendall Herbaugh said communication was key to Central’s success on defense.

“Our backs were definitely talking to us up front telling us when we need to drop back,” Herbaugh said. “And we were just able to get rebounds and steals and work together to get the points off them.”

The Falcons struggled in the first half offensively as well. Central led 4-0 at the end of the first period, and 14-2 at the half.

The Falcons came to life offensively in the second half to put the game out of reach.

Central began to feed the ball inside and the Falcons were able to score easy baskets.

“We tried to run a little bit of a flex offense there in the first quarter, at least,” Scott said. “And we just put it in this week, and the girls were still kind of lost. So I kind of got away from it. And I kind of put Tycara (Scott) down in the post and we started getting some easy baskets. So that was an adjustment we made at the half. I also put Ayanna (Strother) down there a few times and got a few baskets.”

The Hawks (6-5) continued to struggle offensively in the third period and managed just six points on 3-for-10 shooting.

“We’re just so apprehensive attacking zones for some reason,” Skyline girls basketball coach Jim Kenney said. “Honestly, it’s something we work on every single day — attacking gaps, driving hard, kicking. For the last couple games, they just will not do it.”

Jordan Kenney and Rachel Sirbaugh led the Hawks with 6 points each.

Central was led by Strother with 14 points. Tycara Scott had 10 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists, and Herbaugh had 10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists for the Falcons. Maria Martson added 5 points and 7 rebounds for Central.

The Falcons had a little extra something to play for with the win. Bryan Scott had told his team before the game if they played well, he would dance in the locker room after the game, much like Central boys basketball coach Jeff Whittle does after victories for his team.

“It’s a good thing when you come in and dance and jump around and put a smile on the kids’ faces,” Bryan Scott said. “They got a big kick out of that.”

Central plays at defending Bull Run District champion George Mason today in a big district contest.

Bryan Scott said that he hopes his team can build off of Wednesday’s win.

“We got a little bit aggressive in practice this week,” Bryan Scott said. “And I told them it’s going to carry over to (Thursday), because (today’s) a big game against George Mason. …I’m hoping that intensity can carry over and we can get a win down there.”