FRONT ROYAL - The Skyline girls' basketball team started its district season on the right foot Friday night.

The Hawks knocked off previously undefeated Brentsville, 52-43, in Class 3 Northwestern District girls basketball action.

Skyline had lost four out of five games at the end of December and into the early part of January, which made the win over Brentsville even sweeter.

“We had a little rough patch over Christmas, but I think we’re back now, back in the swing of things,” Skyline senior Rachel Sirbaugh said. “We played as a team tonight and not as individuals. And I think that’s what helped us.”

The first half wasn’t pretty for either squad. Brentsville went 1-for-13 from the floor in the first period. Skyline shot 27.6 percent (8-for-29) in the first half and trailed, 21-20 at halftime.

The two teams traded the lead early in the third period before Skyline took control of the game. The Hawks went on a 17-0 run, which extended into the fourth period for a 45-29 lead with 5:48 remaining.

“We started talking on defense a lot more,” Skyline sophomore Christa Grady said. “And we started to realize that we needed to run more because they were fast, too. So we had to pick it up to stay with them.”

Sirbaugh said it was the best the team has played all season.

“In the second half we came out like we’ve never done before,” she said. “We ran the floor. We played defense like I’ve never seen. And that turned into turnovers, which turned into layups, which gave us a huge run.”

The Hawks (6-7, 1-0 Class 3 Northwestern) also showed their balance offensively as four different players scored during the run.

Skyline coach Jim Kenney said he was very pleased with how his team played, especially defensively.

“I thought we had a really good game plan,” Kenney said. “We knew what was coming. We knew offensively what we needed to do, but what I was happiest about was defensively. (Brentsville’s Catherine Forst) got some open looks there initially. But we made a couple little adjustments to double-team her on that high screen and pretty much took care of it. I’m just really happy with the girls.”

Sirbaugh said it was the first time the Hawks have beaten the Tigers in her four years with the team and it felt good to get the win. She said the team was motivated to get the victory.

“We really wanted to beat them because they’re undefeated and they’ve kind of become a rival for us,” Sirbaugh said. “We just knew that we had to tighten up because they have always come back and beaten us in the past when they were behind. So we knew that we couldn’t let up.”

Forst had a game-high 20 points to lead the Tigers (11-1, 0-1 Class 3 Northwestern). Sirbaugh led the Hawks with 11 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Zaryn Rateb had 10 points and five rebounds and Grady had nine points, seven rebounds, two steals and four assists for the Hawks.

The Hawks were without senior Shyla Schmitz due to an ankle injury she suffered in Thursday’s practice.

Grady said she believes the Hawks are back to playing the way they are capable of and they have a chance to do really well the rest of the season.

“I think we’re going to go pretty far if we keep running and keep working together,” Grady said.

The Hawks play at William Monroe on Tuesday. The Dragons won the district title last season, but are without the services of Notre Dame commit Sam Brunelle due to an injury that may keep her out the rest of the season. Brunelle had foot surgery earlier this week.

Sirbaugh said Tuesday is a chance for the Hawks to take another step toward their goal.

“(William Monroe has) always been tough,” Sirbaugh said. “They were No. 1 in the district last year and we want to be No. 1. So that’s going to be a big game for us.”

Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at tkeeler@nvdaily.com