WOODSTOCK — For Sherando girls basketball coach Mike Marsh, Friday’s non-district game at Central was lost during a five-minute span to start the third period.
During that time, the Falcons turned a one-point halftime deficit into a 37-30 lead and, though the visiting Warriors would challenge Central the rest of the way, never lost their grip on that advantage for the remainder of the contest.
That lull in the third period — Marsh said the Warriors were “flat-footed” as Central crashed the glass, and Sherando didn’t hit a field goal in the frame until sophomore Asia James connected on a 3-pointer at the 3:05 mark — placed front and center the inconsistency that has bitten the Warriors time and again in their first four games.
After Friday’s loss, Sherando has lost three games this winter by a total of 8 points, a list that includes a 1-point loss to Hampshire (West Virginia) in the opener and a 3-point setback to Brentsville last week.
“Right now we’re really close to being where we wanna be but it’s probably gonna take us a half a dozen games to really get solid. And it’s OK,” Marsh said. “I told them, we’re fine with that, we’ve just gotta keep on playing hard and just keep on working and as the team continues to develop we’ll be fine. We’re inexperienced, that’s all. Every game is valuable and we’re gaining all kinds of experience, it’s just that we’re not there yet.”
The Warriors (1-3) have a core to build around. Senior guard/forward Ashton Clark has been the team’s leading scorer in every game so far this winter and dropped a season-high 20 points on Friday night. James is averaging 12.8 points per game after scoring 14 against Central, and senior center Nicole Morgan has varsity experience and finished with 8 points and six rebounds against the Falcons.
But Marsh said Sherando is still trying to find the right chemistry around that trio. Freshman guard Gabby Valentinetti, one of the first players off the bench, was the only other Warrior to score points on Friday night. She finished with 6, and her acrobatic, spinning bucket in the lane late in the first half helped the Warriors take a 28-27 lead into halftime.
“There’s a lot of athleticism on our team, we just haven’t corralled it,” Marsh said. “It’s like a bunch of wild horses out there right now, we’ve gotta find out a way to get some saddles on them and hold them down a little bit.”
Take out the decisive span in the third period and Sherando matched Central play for play.
The game was back and forth early before an 8-2 run gave the Falcons a 19-13 lead after one period. The Warriors countered by outscoring Central 15-8 in the second period, and after trailing by seven with less than six minutes to play, they cut the deficit to a point with back-to-back buckets from Morgan and a fastbreak layup from Clark with 3:50 to play.
The contest wasn’t decided until the Falcons hit 3 of 4 free throws over the final 23 seconds.
“If we would’ve played even there (at the start of the third period) I think it would’ve been different,” Marsh said. “But we spent a lot of energy trying to get back in the game at the end and we did, it just fell short.”
That’s been the story of Sherando’s season so far, but Marsh said the Warriors, whom he called a resilient group, haven’t been discouraged.
“They’re doing a good job of understanding that we just need to keep on working and sooner or later, the ball’s gonna bounce our way,” he said.
“We’re trying to get it done and the girls are working hard. I mean they’re busting their butt in practice, the attitude’s good. It’s just disappointing that we’ve been this close so many times already this year and not gotten there yet.”