James Wood boys turn to D to beat Hawks 63-44
WINCHESTER — The play-in game for the Northwestern District Boys Basketball Tournament was anything but a showcase of the district’s offensive prowess.
In fact, both James Wood and Skyline had dismal nights from both the field and the line.
But the Colonels, thanks to several critical plays by Ryland Williams, were able to advance behind a 63-44 win and move on to Wednesday’s semifinals where they will play regular-season champion Sherando at 6 p.m. at Millbrook High School.
“I was really proud of the guys and how they played tonight,” said Wood coach Al Smith. “We had a really tough stretch there during the middle of the season. Sherando has gotten to us twice this year. We’re really looking forward to getting another crack at them.”
For the Hawks it was a disappointing night where multiple opportunities to move on the tournament were lost.
“When you don’t shoot the basketball any better than we did tonight you’re not going to win many games in a competitive district like this one,” said Hawks coach Jacob Bates. “We were 18 for 56 as a team for the field.”
With Wood leading 40-27 heading into the second half and seemingly in control of the game, the Colonels offense went into deep freeze.
Wood managed to hit just three of its 15 shots from the field and connected on just one of three free throw attempts during the period, but that doesn’t give the real picture of how poorly Wood shot.
“They only scored seven points in the third quarter,” Bates said. “There was definitely a window to get back into the game at that point but we just couldn’t seem to get a basket.”
Two of the Colonels three field goals came in the last 48 seconds of the period. For the first four minutes of the third quarter Wood missed all seven of their field goal attempts. Their first basket, though, was a big one when Williams scored on a 3-point play with 4:10 left in the period.
“It was a very exciting game to play in,” Williams said. “That 3-point play was really important at that point in the game, but it was all about the pass from Nick Goode. All I did was the lay it in. I thought that we did what we needed to do to get the win. It’s really a good feeling.”
With the Colonels, who have been known to be streaky at times, struggling, it was a golden opportunity for Skyline to get back into the game. Instead, the Hawks nearly matched Wood in offensive futility, hitting only four of their 20 field-goal attempts during the period.
“We varied things on defense,” Smith said. “Every two or three possessions we’d change defenses on them. I felt it was effective.”
Although the Hawks did outscore the Colonels 8-7 in the period, it hardly mattered.
Wood finally found its touch midway through the fourth quarter and exploded for an 8-0 run over the final three-and-a-half minutes of play.
“We knew that we had to step up our play after the third quarter, and that’s what we did,” said Colonel senior Michael Carter.
The game, which proved to be the final one of the season for the Hawks, didn’t begin that way.
Nick Goode and Williams nailed a pair of 3-pointers on the Colonels’ first two shots of the game to stake them to a 6-0 lead in the first minute of the game.
But the Hawks responded immediately. Nick Helmick scored three straight buckets over the next minute to knot the score 6-6. Williams responded with a layup on Wood’s next trip down the court, sparking a 11-2 run by the Colonels until the final seconds of the period.
Wood expanded its lead throughout the second quarter, thanks to timely 3-pointers by McCall Toler and Williams, who finished the night with a game-high 22 points, including three 3-pointers.
Although both team’s offenses seemed to come and go during the contest, both performed brilliantly on defense throughout the game. Wood and Skyline combined for 23 turnovers in the first half as the speed of the game seemed to unnerve both teams.
Perhaps the most hurt by the strong defensive play was Hawk guard Kylmen Breeden. After scoring 18 points against Millbrook last Friday, Wood held the Skyline senior to just four points and completely shut him out in the critical second half.
“We like it to be an up and down the court game,” Smith said. “Overall, I thought that it was one of our better defensive games. Considering how our offense was doing, it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Besides Williams, Carter and Brett Lewin both scored in double figure with 10 points each for the Colonels.
Helmick led the Hawks with 11 points.
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