Skyline boys still searching for answers during season’s second half

Skyline's Marcel Roy makes a pass as Sherando's Michael Perry defends during fourth quarter action Monday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Skyline High School’s boys basketball team entered the 2017-18 season hoping to erase the memory of a one-win campaign a year ago and was on the path to doing so by winning four of its first six games. The Hawks have since gone over a month without a victory.

Skyline fell at home to Sherando, 79-63, on Monday night, stretching its losing streak to nine games while the Hawks continue to seek answers past the midway point of the season.

“We’re just making too many mistakes, mistakes that I was hoping we wouldn’t be making at this time of the year,” said Hawks head coach Jeff Monroe, whose team fell to 4-11 overall and 1-6 in Northwestern District play.

“The kids are playing hard. I mean I know it’s this far into the game but we’re still young. Some of our key players are still young and they’re making inexperienced mistakes.”

The Hawks showed flashes of their potential on Monday night – they connected on eight 3-pointers, including back-to-back treys by Ty Clingerman (14 points) that cut Sherando’s lead to 10 points with five minutes to play, and freshman guard Mason Schmitz put on a dazzling display in the second and third periods en route to a game-high 22 points. But the loss also showcased Skyline’s regular pitfalls.

Skyline's Mason Schmitz glides through the lane for a shot during first quarter action Monday night against Sherando. Rich Cooley/Daily

Monroe said Skyline entered Monday’s game averaging between 18 and 19 turnovers over its previous two contests, and the Hawks turned the ball over 19 times against a Sherando (6-9, 5-5 Northwestern District) squad that played its reserves for large portions of the game in an effort to keep everyone fresh during a four-game week. Skyline also was just 5-for-15 from the free throw line and struggled on the defensive end, allowing a season-high 79 points.

The Hawks have allowed 72 or more points in six of their nine losses during their losing streak and are giving up an average of 69.4 ppg during that span.

In Monday’s game, Sherando answered a Skyline score with points of its own following 16 of the Hawks’ 28 scoring possessions. Monroe said the Hawks gave up too many easy points.

“We’re just not doing a good job with help defense,” Monroe said. “Our defense is not very good right now. We’re doing a good job trying to get on-the-ball pressure but once they get by us they’re getting layups out of it. We’re not doing a good job helping out our teammates and stuff. That’s been our biggest problem so far.”

On an encouraging note for the Hawks, Schmitz continued to trend upward against Sherando and gave his team a spark at the end of the first half.

Skyline's Ty Clingerman goes up for a shot while Sherando's Tad Dean looks on from behind during third quarter action Monday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

With Skyline trailing by 20 points late in the second period, Schmitz scored the final 10 points of the half for the Hawks ¬- including a pair of 3-pointers – to cut Sherando’s lead to 37-26 at halftime. Schmitz, who had been held scoreless until the 1:40 mark of the second period, added 8 more points in the third period and hit 10 of 16 shot attempts in the loss.

“He’s been playing pretty well the last few games,” Monroe said. “The biggest thing is he shot the ball a whole lot better tonight than he has, but he’s got a lot of ability. Hopefully he continues to work at it, continues to improve and not get big-headed.”

Skyline’s regular season ends in three weeks, and all seven of the Hawks’ remaining games are against Class 3 Northwestern District competition. Skyline plays four of its final five games at home and needs only to make a short trip across town for another in Friday’s game against Warren County.

“We’ve gotta get that first win,” Monroe said. “If we get that first win some things slow down a little bit for us and stuff like that. That’s the biggest thing. We’ve been on a whirlwind right now with our guys. Tonight we had our legs back a little bit – we’re still a little tired but we got our legs back a little bit tonight. We’ve got a tough task at hand (Tuesday) going to Culpeper, but that’s why you play the games. You never know.”

Skyline's Jayden Norwood goes up inside to score over Sherando's Michael Perry, center, and Keli Lawson, right, during third quarter action Monday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

Skyline's Laterrian Barber goes up inside to score over Sherando's William Hall during Monday night's contest in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

Skyline's Dylan Allison prepares to grab a loose ball while Sherando's Timonjah Washington looks on during fourth quarter action Monday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

Skyline's Dylan Allison goes up to score along the baseline as Sherando's Keli Lawson and William Hall defend during fourth quarter action Monday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

Skyline's Ty Clingerman pushes the ball down the floor as Sherando's Matthew McKay runs to catch up during second quarter action Monday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

Skyline head coach Jeff Monroe kneels along the scorer's table during fourth quarter action Monday night against Sherando. Rich Cooley/Daily

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