FRONT ROYAL- Skyline fought hard to send its girls basketball game with Handley into overtime, but for the second time this year the Hawks came up a little short in an overtime contest.
The Judges took advantage of a couple of Skyline turnovers in a 56-50 overtime victory on Thursday night.
“I’m real proud of them,” Skyline coach Jim Kenney said. “I couldn’t be prouder of a group. With the way they play together, the way they pick each other up. There’s not one selfish kid on this team. There’s not one selfish kid. They all love each other. They go to bat for each other. They battle for each other. And that’s something as a coach that win or lose you have to be happy with, and I am. I love this group. It’s a special group.”
The Hawks (3-4) trailed by as many as 8 points in the fourth quarter before responding with a furious rally to end the game.
Skyline went on a 12-4 run to tie the game at 45 with 57 seconds left. Skyline senior point guard Rachel Sirbaugh scored seven of the points, including a huge 3-pointer with 1:20 left to cut the lead to 2 points.
“As a senior and since I’ve been on this team for four years now I want to give the other girls a chance,” Sirbaugh said. “But I want the ball in those situations because I know my ability and I want to be able to supply those points for my team in the hard situations.”
Skyline sophomore CiCi Difiglia had the other 5 points during the run, including the game-tying basket with 57 seconds left.
Handley (6-1) retook the lead on a putback by Taylor Beard off of a rebound on a missed free throw with 31 seconds left.
Sirbaugh was then fouled with 10 seconds left and calmly made the first one to cut the lead to 47-46. Handley coach Randi Jones called a timeout in between free throw attempts. Sirbaugh said she tried to keep the free throw out of her mind during the timeout.
“I was trying not to think about it,” Sirbaugh said of the free throw. “I was just trying to joke around and just be my normal self and try not to put too much pressure on myself.”
It worked for her as Sirbaugh calmly swished the second free throw in to tie the game at 47 with 10 seconds left in regulation.
“It was like a breath of fresh air when we made that one,” Sirbaugh said.
The Hawks were able to get a steal in the final seconds, and Kenney said he thought Sirbaugh was fouled in the final seconds, but there was nothing called.
Things took an odd turn at the start of overtime. Normally in overtime players continue to shoot from the same end of the floor as they did in the fourth quarter, but the referees told the players to switch sides at the start of Thursday’s overtime.
Handley’s Neysha Washington scored on a driving layup with 3:20 left in overtime. Just 19 seconds later, the referees realized they had told the players to shoot from the wrong end of the floor. After a lengthy discussion, they decided to count Handley’s basket and have players switch sides of the court at that point.
“They go the wrong direction, score a basket and (the referee) says that’s not correctable,” Kenney said. “ I didn’t understand that one either. I wasn’t asking him to give us points, but I said you got to take those points off.”
The Judges scored a basket on a Skyline turnover to extend the lead to 51-47 with 1:41 remaining. A basket by Zaryn Rateb cut the lead to 51-49 with one minute remaining in overtime.
However, Beard scored inside the paint to extend the lead to 53-49. A Skyline turnover and a missed shot by the Hawks helped lead to the Judges extending their edge to 56-49 in the final seconds and putting the game out of reach.
Kenney said that turnovers down the stretch hurt the team, but he’s confident the losses to quality Class 4 teams such as Handley will help Skyline, a Class 3 team, down the road. Skyline lost in overtime to James Wood earlier this season and lost by just two points to Millbrook. All of Skyline’s losses have come to Class 4 schools.
“I’m extremely proud of how we’ve played, especially against those three teams,” Kenney said. “And I think games like this – we’re going to build on, we’re going to learn from. We’re going to start to figure out we can’t have those turnovers. And when we get in our conference and play the (Class 3) teams in our conference, I think we’re going to benefit from being in games like this.”
Sirbaugh led the Hawks with 24 points, seven steals and five rebounds and Difiglia had 11 points and three steals.
Skyline is off until Thursday, when they play in the Ram Hardwood Classic tournament at Strasburg. They will play Page County in the semifinals.
Sirbaugh said she believes having a few days off for Christmas break will be a good thing for the team.
“We’ve been working really hard in practice,” she said. “And I think we all need just a little break just over the weekend. And then we’re going to go get back in and try to win out this season because we’re really motivated to do good this season.”