STEPHENS CITY – The way the last week had gone, Skyline’s girls basketball team would’ve taken a win any way it could get it on Wednesday night. Luckily for the Hawks, they ran into a Sherando squad that is hurting for points just as much as they are.
Skyline’s offensive woes continued against the Warriors, but Sherando’s extended battle with its own misgivings on offense helped the Hawks snap a three-game losing streak in a 45-36 road win.
The Hawks’ 45 points were the most they’ve scored in a three-game span, but they also failed to shoot better than 30 percent from the floor and made only 7 of 14 free throws in the win, which improved them to 4-6 overall.
“Still a lot of sloppy play,” Hawks coach Jim Kenney said, “but at least tonight there were signs of life. There were signs of life, signs of what we could do.
“After the three games prior to this, we’re very happy to be back on the positive side, back in the win column and just back to them playing like I know (they can).”
Skyline won Wednesday’s game with defense and a lopsided turnover margin. The Hawks forced 25 turnovers while committing 14 themselves, and their full-court press further complicated things for Sherando’s scuffling offense and helped lead to 15 Skyline steals.
“They’re down a little bit right now,” Kenney said of pressing the Warriors, who have lost four of their last five games and dropped to 4-7 overall with the loss. “We knew that coming in, and we knew that if we pressed the issue a little bit, then hopefully that would lead to good things for us because we don’t do real good just running half-court stuff. We need to be out in transition, and that needs to fuel most of our offense.”
When Sherando wasn’t turning the ball over, it was shooting just as poorly as Skyline. The Warriors shot only 28.6 percent from the floor (the Hawks made 28.9 percent of their shots) and made just 3 of 11 free throws, continuing a frustrating trend that has seen Sherando average only 28.4 points per game over the past five contests.
Warriors head coach Mike Marsh said his team, which was averaging 53.7 points per game through its first six games, has struggled to find balance on offense since senior guard Haley Byrnes – who is expected back in two weeks – went down with a foot fracture.
“We’re a sensitive team,” Marsh said, “and what I mean by that is that we had a balance of offense, and all the sudden one of our starters gets hurt, and we had grown into that offense, that roster, and that lineup and it was going well, and all the sudden we lost it. Now we’re trying to find that piece again, and it’s just been difficult. We struggle.”
That much was on display early, as the Warriors went over six minutes without scoring in the first half. Skyline, which suffered through its scoring drought of eight-plus minutes between the first and second periods, couldn’t capitalize and led 24-17 in the first half.
Both teams combined for only 19 points through the first 12:42 of the game before finding success over the final 3:18 of the first half.
“We had some good looks,” Kenney said. “You can’t ask for better looks, and they just, for whatever reason, were not falling. We’re offensively challenged sometimes.”
Sherando, despite its inefficiencies, cut the Hawks’ lead to 28-25 in the third period before Skyline senior Shyla Schmitz scored 5 straight points to send the Hawks into the final quarter with a 33-27 lead. That advantage reached 12 points with just over a minute to play.
Schmitz led Skyline with 12 points and three steals, while junior guard Jordan Kenney added 11 points powered by a trio of 3-pointers. Senior point guard Rachel Sirbaugh added 8 points, and sophomore Christa Grady had 7 points and three steals for the Hawks.
Sherando’s scoring was far less balanced. Senior Ashton Clark scored 15 of the Warriors’ 19 second-half points and finished with 21 and seven rebounds. Sophomore Asia James added 9 points and nine rebounds, and the rest of the Warriors combined for 6 points.
It’s been that way for the last few weeks for Sherando’s offense.
“They know we can be better, and just right now we’re trying to find a way to be better,” Marsh said. “And once we get to that point where we are successful handling the basketball and the pressure we’re seeing, which will come at some point, we’ll be fine. It’s just that until that time it’s an up-and-down-type deal.”