WOODSTOCK — Central’s girls basketball team got back on the winning side of things with a 52-48 victory over Sherando on Friday night, and it did so following a formula that figures to be the key to the Falcons’ success all season.
Central’s offense, which has struggled to hit shots consistently in the early going, worked from the inside out against Sherando and generated a trio of double-figure scorers, a group led by a 22-point effort from senior forward Tycara Scott. On the other side of the ball, the Falcons’ defense forced 15 turnovers, including nine steals.
The latter phase of the game is what head coach Bryan Scott said he hangs his hat on as a defensive-minded coach, and prior to the Falcons’ home game against the Warriors, he encouraged his squad to emulate the effort he saw in a loss at Page County earlier in the week, a game that he said was one of the better defensive outings Central has had early in the season.
“I told them I wanted to come out and play with that intensity,” Bryan Scott said after Friday’s win.
For the most part, Central (2-3) did so on its way to halting a three-game losing streak. Sherando (1-3), a team fighting its own inconsistencies this winter, had some open shots throughout Friday’s contest but ended the night shooting just 35.2 percent (19 of 54 from the field). That included just a 28-percent mark in the second half as the Falcons switched from a 3-2 to a 2-3 matchup zone designed to slow down Sherando sharpshooters Ashton Clark and Asia James.
Clark finished the night with 20 points while James chipped in 14, but both combined to hit only 4 of 16 shots (2 of 9 from beyond the 3-point arc) over the final two periods after combining for 20 points in the first half.
“(Clark and James) are both great shooters,” Bryan Scott said, “... so I wanted (Central’s defenders) to be aware of where they were at, so I was kind of playing a little bit of a matchup. I was even taking my girls at the bottom and closing out on the wings until the wing recovered, then bouncing back. That kind of was a semi-junk 2-3 but it seemed to work.”
It did enough to force the Warriors into a lull at the start of the third period, a near-five-minute stretch that Sherando head coach Mike Marsh said determined the fate of the game as Central turned a 28-27 halftime deficit into a 37-30 advantage.
Central played with the lead for the rest of the contest, sealing the win on two late free throws from sophomore Maya Frye-Williams and another freebie from Maria Marston. Before all that, it was a lob from Kendall Herbaugh to Tycara Scott in the paint coming out of a timeout with 1:58 to play that gave the Falcons a 3-point cushion and ended a four-minute scoring drought.
The bucket capped a big night for Tycara Scott, who scored 12 of her 22 points in the second half, went 8-for-8 from the free-throw line and finished with eight rebounds.
“She’s worked really hard this summer,” Bryan Scott said of his daughter. “Her hands are starting to become really good. She’s catching balls that last year I don’t think she would’ve caught at this time, so she’s starting to mature and turning into a great post player.”
Bryan Scott said before the season started that Central would boast improved shooting this winter, but Friday’s performance proved again that the Falcons’ offense is at its most efficient when it takes advantage of its 6-foot-1 senior.
“That’s definitely where our strength is,” Bryan Scott said. “I thought we could shoot the ball from the outside, and we can, but there’s not too many teams that we’ll face that’s gonna have a girl of Tycara’s strength and Tycara’s size. That’s gonna work to our advantage.”
Even more encouraging for Central, Tycara Scott didn’t have to do all of the heavy lifting. Marston hit a trio of 3-pointers and finished with 14 points and five steals, and Frye-Williams broke out with a 12-point performance that included 8 points in the first half and her clutch free throws with 23 seconds to play.
“She stepped up,” Bryan Scott said of Frye-Williams, a second-year varsity player. “You don’t always want your point guard to score a whole lot of points but she was penetrating, finishing at the rim, dishing the ball out, played good defense. By far her best game she’s played for me since she’s been on varsity, no doubt about that. And not just point-wise but complete. I told her in the locker room there, I said that’s the type of point guard I need, to play like that each and every game.”
As a team the Falcons made only 18 of 47 shots (38.3 percent).
“It wasn’t consistent but when (the Warriors) were starting to get close, it seemed like somebody would come up and hit a big shot,” Bryan Scott said. “I guess you gotta have those games. It wasn’t continuous flow but it seemed to be big when we needed it.”