WINCHESTER – Sherando High School’s boys basketball team had struggled en route to just one win in its first seven games of the season. The Warriors are hoping they found the start of a new trend in their first game of the 2018 calendar year against James Wood on Wednesday night.

Sherando got the fast started it needed and ran the Colonels out of their own gymnasium with an 84-52 win over their Northwestern District rivals, snapping a five-game losing streak in the process and perhaps swinging momentum into their favor after the slow start to the season.

“It shows that we’re ready to turn over a new leaf,” Warriors senior guard Aaron Banks said following the win, “because coming into this game we were 1-7. The talk outside, at school and stuff, was, ‘Y’all are 1-7.’ Definitely a big win. We’ve still got a long way to go but it means a lot, good start.”

Wednesday’s performance was by far the best Sherando (2-7, 2-3 Northwestern District) has put together offensively this winter, as they entered the game averaging 55.6 points per game and had easily eclipsed that mark by the end of the third period, during which they torched James Wood (5-6, 0-3) for 31 points.

The win was set up by a quick start to the night that saw Sherando hit seven of its final nine shots of the first period to help power a 20-8 run in the first half and a 37-21 halftime lead.

“We were really focusing on executing some things that we thought we should be able to do,” Sherando head coach Garland Williams said. “In past games we’ve been playing in a way where we thought we played well two and a half quarters, three quarters, and just fizzled out or something at the end. But tonight I thought that good start at the beginning, any time you get a good start a lot of times that helps you build momentum and get everything rolling. Those guys did a good job of that tonight.”

Sherando had a trio of players – Banks (18 points) and fellow seniors Tad Dean (14) and Matt McKay (12) – finish in double-figure scoring, while three others scored at least 8 points in the win.

Williams said the Warriors did a better job of running the floor against the Colonels to create fastbreak opportunities.

“I think we’re best when we’re pushing the ball,” said Dean, who added that Sherando showed some aggression attacking the rim on Wednesday night that had been missing from the Warriors’ earlier contests. “We got out early to some fastbreaks and that definitely gave us the lead and some cushion.”

Williams added that the Warriors were more efficient with their high-percentage opportunities when they presented themselves.

“One thing is we didn’t miss as many layups tonight as we had in the past,” Williams said. “The Liberty game (a 78-59 loss on Dec. 22) we missed a bunch of layups and the Spotswood game (a 73-53 loss on Dec. 27) we missed a bunch of layups. Both of those teams are really good but if we make layups that changes things a little bit. Tonight we were able to make some layups. Still missed some but we made more than we missed.”

Part of Sherando’s early season struggles up until Wednesday night’s victory could be chalked up to half of its players not yet being in basketball shape after taking part in an extended playoff run during football season that saw Sherando reach the VHSL Class 4 state semifinals.

The Warriors’ season didn’t come to an end on the football field until Dec. 2 – Sherando played its first basketball game of the season on Nov. 29 – and Banks, one of those football players, said for much of the first few weeks of basketball season the “chemistry wasn’t really there yet.”

“Everyone’s trying to get out and run and people are missing passes and you don’t know why. It’s because the chemistry’s not there yet, and (you’re) just getting a little frustrated. It showed tonight that it’s good now,” Banks said, adding that the addition of the football players to the basketball roster a few games into the season also prompted some role changes that required extra adjustments.

“Us coming back, some starters went to playing on the bench, so then they’ve gotta get used to coming off the bench and stuff like that. I think most of all just figuring out their role on the team, and once everybody figures that out, we’re good.”

Sherando’s road game at Skyline originally scheduled for Friday has been postponed due to school closure for weather, and the Warriors will next get a shot to build on Wednesday’s performance next Monday against Brentsville. Sherando fell to the Tigers 63-56 on Dec. 19.

“Hopefully now the guys have confidence that we can be successful in some things,” Williams said, “and look at some things that we did well and let’s snowball those types of things.”