SHYLA SCHMITZ

Shyla Schmitz Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Skyline gained momentum in the second quarter on Monday night and didn’t look back.

The Hawks used strong second and third quarters to pull out a 51-37 nondistrict girls basketball victory over Central.

“I think that’s the best we’ve ever done,” Skyline senior Shyla Schmitz said. “I think our defense was really good. We locked down (on defense) really well and we communicated really well (Monday night). And I’ve never seen us move so fast.”

The Hawks (1-1) trailed 16-9 after the opening quarter. Central senior 6-foot-1 forward Tycara Scott had six of her eight points in the opening frame.

“We came out doing the things we wanted to do, getting the ball inside,” Central coach Bryan Scott said. “And we were playing good defense. And then somewhere along the line, it went south for us. We stopped getting the ball inside. I think it was just something that we got away from.”

Skyline also switched from a man-to-man defense to a 2-3 zone in the second quarter, which helped get things started for the Hawks.

Skyline outscored the Falcons, 14-6, in the second quarter. Perhaps no play was bigger than the last one of the first half.

In the final seconds, Skyline senior point guard Rachel Sirbaugh threw a long pass to a wide-open Jordan Kenney, who made a buzzer-beating layup. The basket gave the Hawks their first lead of the night, 23-22.

“I was just frustrated because I wasn’t shooting very good,” Sirbaugh said. “So I was like you know what I’m just going to have to assist (Monday night). And I just turned and saw Jordan (Kenney) down the court. So I just threw a pass and she made a beautiful layup to end it. So that’s good momentum going into the second half.”

The Hawks didn’t look back after that. They scored the first seven points of the second half and built a commanding 44-28 lead after three quarters of play. Skyline used a full-court press to help ignite the run and held on in the fourth period.

Schmitz played a key role in the third period with seven of her nine points coming in the quarter. She said for her it all starts with defense.

“I feel like I felt more confident once I knew my defense was there,” Schmitz said. “Once I knew I could play lockdown defense, it helped me on offense.”

Another key player for the Hawks was freshman Kyra Whitmore, who finished with a game-high 11 points. She had eight of her 11 points in the second quarter.

Skyline coach Jim Kenney said that Whitmore struggled in the team’s season-opening loss to John Champe. He said he was glad to see her play as she did against Central.

“(Monday night) she hit that first 3 and from then on she was good,” Jim Kenney said. “And the thing about Kyra (Whitemore) she’s a good scorer, obviously, and she can shoot. But she’s got such a good basketball sense. She makes good passes. When she’s bringing the ball down the floor her head’s up. It’s not perfect yet but she did some good things.”

The Falcons (1-2) shot 6-for-11 (54.5 percent) in the first quarter but went 4-for-25 (16 percent) over the next two quarters.

“We’ll definitely be getting the ball out and be shooting (Tuesday) and that’s free throws and everything,” Bryan Scott said. “I think just altogether our shooting game was just off — free throws and jump shots. Even little intermediate jump shots — 10-15-footers — we couldn’t knock down. Definitely, we’ll be looking at some shooting (Tuesday).”

Bryan Scott said what upset him the most was Central’s defense. While Central struggled shooting in the second and third periods, the Hawks shot 46.9 (15-for-32) during the same time frame.

“Defensively, we stopped doing the things we should have been doing,” Bryan Scott said. “It’s frustrating as a coach when you come out of the timeout and tell your girls to match-up and you look underneath the basket and there’s someone wide open for a layup. As a coach, especially a coach that strives on playing defense that’s very frustrating to see that and witness that.”

Central was led by Kendall Herbaugh with 9 points and 12 rebounds and Maria Marston with 9 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Central plays at Page County tonight.

Schmitz had 6 rebounds, while Sirbaugh and Zaryn Rateb had 5 rebounds each. Skyline hosts Millbrook on Friday night.

Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at tkeeler@nvdaily.com