Hakel’s 18 paces Sherando girls’ 80-40 win over Falcons
STEPHENS CITY — A lot of what the Sherando girls’ basketball team did well against Briar Woods on Tuesday night was a product of their defense.
From the opening whistle to the game-ending buzzer, the Warriors were up in the Falcons’ grill and either forcing turnovers or tough shots.
Creating offense through its defense led to plenty of easy baskets for Sherando, and four players reached double-digit scoring as the Warriors doubled-up Briar Woods 80-40.
Whether hawking the ball all over the court or getting a hand in the face of shooters down on the low block, the Warriors had possibly their best defensive game of the young season. Sherando forced 37 turnovers and held Briar Woods (0-5) to 13 second-half points.
“It was a great team effort,” said junior guard Jessica Hakel, who led Sherando with 18 points and nine rebounds. “Everyone came out strong and hard and we all hustled up and down the floor. It was just a really good team effort.”
The Warriors (2-3) had struggled offensively in some of their earlier games, which included a 46-34 loss last week at home to Broadway. And even though not every possession was golden on Tuesday — the Warriors, in turn, had 27 turnovers in their win — at least Sherando kept trying to get to the rim to score off high-percentage shots or get second- and third-chance points against the Falcons.
Besides Hakel, junior Heidi Brown and freshman Davina Lane each scored 15 points, and junior Audra Sites had 13. All 12 Warriors scored in the win, and that included senior Haley Burns, who is in her first season with the varsity.
As the game wound down, Sherando’s main effort was to get the ball to Burns to give her a chance to score. After a couple of miscues, the Warriors got Burns the ball in close, and she was fouled.
With just 9.8 seconds left, Burns hit the first of a two-shot foul, providing point 80 for the Warriors and plenty of excitement from the bench from her supportive teammates.
“It was a good team win,” first-season Sherando coach Mike Marsh said. “The girls did a good job and they really are starting to see what we’re trying to do [to be successful]. They support one another, and we were trying to make sure everybody got in the [scoring column]. Our point guard came up near the end of the game and said ‘I’ll get [Burns] a shot.’ And she got her a chance to score.”
The Warriors scored at least 17 points in each quarter against Briar Woods, and being able to get plenty of points off turnovers helped Sherando throughout the game.
“The defense helped out a lot,” Hakel said. “I mean, we got a lot of quick steals, ran the floor, and got the ball up quick. Our point guards did a good job of looking for us down the floor.”
Being able to set the tone early with their defense helped the Warriors race to a 16-point lead by the end of the first quarter.
The teams traded points for a little more than two minutes, with Sherando holding a 7-6 lead. But the Warriors went on a 17-2 run to close the period to post a 24-8 lead after eight minutes. A string of nine straight points got the lead up to 16-6 by the 3:45 mark, and after a layup by the Falcons broke up the run, the Warriors scored the next eight points to take a commanding lead.
The Falcons turned the ball over 13 times in the first period and missed nine of their 12 shots from the field.
In making an impact in the game right away, Lane went strong to the hoop to score 10 first-period points. Hakel made four field goals to score eight, and Sites had a 3-pointer among her five points in the quarter.
The Warriors never let their lead slip under double digits the rest of the game, but Briar Woods did manage to have its best period in the second, making 8 of 11 shots, turning the ball over just six times, and getting eight points from freshman Amani Rascoe to trail 41-27 at the break.
If Briar Woods had any plans to continue a comeback, the Warriors put a halt to those hopes with their return to lock-down defense in the third quarter.
The Falcons went six minutes between made field goals, made just two baskets (2-of-12 shooting) total in the third, and had 12 turnovers to send their game total (at that point) to 31.
The Warriors, meanwhile, enjoyed a 15-0 run, getting points from six players (Lane led with five in the period), and bursting to a 60-32 lead by the end of the quarter.
“That was a big positive,” Hakel said. “We came out with a lot of energy in the third quarter, which helped us a lot.”
The first basket of the fourth quarter for Briar Woods did not come until 2:07 remained in the game and the Falcons made just 5 of 28 from the field in the second half and shot 31 percent overall in their loss.
“We have been working almost entirely on defense the whole year,” Marsh said. “I mean, even in the summer, we just really focused on developing our defensive game knowing that we had to have a base, and our base was going to be defense.
“The girls have been really patient. We’re slowly starting to get our shooting to come around. I told them that it takes a little time to develop that.”
The Warriors worked a lot harder off the glass, and with Brown (nine rebounds, six blocks) providing the needed anchor, Sherando held a plus 29 advantage in rebounding. Sites had eight rebounds, Lane seven, and reserve Akira Irving had six.
“We’ve really worked on our post defense, because we’re not very big against some teams,” Marsh said. “Even with Heidi [Brown] at six-foot tall, we’re not physically big. We’ve got to be aggressive and the girls do a good job of doubling down and helping the post players.”
With a deep bench at his disposal, Marsh also was able to look at different combinations and keep everyone fresh throughout the game. Marsh knows that kind of depth is going to be needed once the Warriors get into the heart of Northwestern District action after the first of the new year.
“I’ll tell you, [assistant] coach [Susan] Saylor, she’s pretty much responsible for [inserting substitutions],” Marsh said. “We have a plan and she helps implement that plan. She does a real good job getting the girls on the floor. We have kind of a set rotation of eight girls, but tonight, she did a good job of getting reserves in. It’s good for them to get some time and get some points.”
Briar Woods was led by freshman guard Alexis Ali, who scored 10 points.