Sherando girls rally to defeat Wood, 64-56
STEPHENS CITY — Having a poor percentage shooting from behind the 3-point arc in the first half against James Wood on Saturday night didn’t mean that the shot was going to be completely abandoned by the Sherando girls’ basketball team.
When you have so many players that can present themselves as “zone busters,” why pass up a good thing?
The Warriors put a 1-for-14 showing in the first half behind them, knocking down four 3-pointers in the third quarter and adding two more from long range in the fourth, to pull away for a 64-56 Northwestern District win.
“That’s what we do, and the nice thing is that it’s not one kid shooting 3s it’s multiple kids shooting 3s,” Sherando coach Kevin Reed said. “When you do that everybody feels good about themselves, and when you knock them down we all feel a lot better.”
When James Wood came out firing in the third quarter and hit its first seven shots from the field, first-place Sherando (9-9, 5-0 Northwestern) had to do its part to keep up by shooting better from the perimeter.
The Colonels limited their turnovers in the third period (after Sherando’s pressure forced 19 in the first half) and either got to the basket strong or hit outside shots. James Wood (10-7, 2-3) began the third on a 16-7 run to open a 42-36 lead with 4:09 left following junior guard Brooke Nesselrodt’s jumper from the left wing.
The shooting of Nesselrodt (team-best 21 points) played a big factor in the Colonels’ comeback, as she scored 10 of her 11 points in the third during the hot spurt.
“The whole halftime conversation was about breaking [Sherando’s] press,” James Wood coach Rhonda Slider said. “It was killing us. I think, sometimes, it’s still the confidence level of the girls with ball-handling. We try to explain to them ‘when you turn your back, they’re going to be on you. You’ve got to look forward and you’ve got to make the pass. You can’t hold onto the ball.’
“Once we did that, I felt like in the third quarter that they really broke it, got the ball down the floor, and got some good looks.”
James Wood continued to hold the lead until late in the period, and the Warriors kept it close by getting all 12 of their points during a three and a half minute stretch off of 3-pointers. Erin Magalis (nine points, four steals) hit a pair, and Jessica Hakel (15 points, six steals, three assists) and freshman guard Lauren Reed (game-high 25 points, three steals) each hit one.
The Warriors tied it at 45 on Magalis’ 3-pointer from the top of the key, and Reed got loose for a layup and-one off of a steal and assist from Audra Sites (10 points, seven rebounds, four steals, three assists) to send Sherando up by three with 58 seconds left.
Going to the fourth, Sherando held a 48-47 lead, but a 3-pointer from Heidi Brown (five points, four rebounds) extended the lead to four to open the scoring in the period.
The Colonels got a basket from Whitney Dick (12 points, nine rebounds) with 6:07 left to close the gap to two, but James Wood would not have the same amount of scoring down the stretch like it did when it put up 21 points in the third quarter.
Beginning with a pair of made free throws from Reed, Sherando went on a decisive 8-0 run to take control of the game. Magalis scored the next three points, and Reed nailed a baseline 3-pointer with 4:01 left to send the Warriors up 59-49.
“Confidence was a key,” said Lauren Reed, who missed her first seven shots from behind the arc before making her first of three in the win. “We just had to stay confident and keep shooting, and eventually, [shots] would fall.”
The Colonels only got as close as six points twice in the final minutes, as a stickback by Sarah Johnson (eight points, game-high 11 rebounds) with 3:41 left was the last made basket by James Wood.
The Warriors saved some energy by limiting pressure full-court, sealing off entry lanes better and daring the Colonels to win from outside. James Wood (0 for 4 from 3-point range in the fourth and 0 for 9 overall) had trouble scoring most anywhere in the fourth quarter, and Nesselrodt was limited to two shots and no points in the final period.
“It wasn’t so much that we pinpointed [Nesselrodt] at the end of the third — the reality of it was we needed to shore up our defense,” Kevin Reed said. “We didn’t extend it as much in the fourth, and that kind of allowed us to sit back and see things in front of us instead of chasing the whole time.”
The Colonels shot well from the foul line (18 of 24) and finished a plus-18 in rebounding, but overall issues with turnovers (29) and tired legs at the end hindered any chance at a comeback.
“The fourth quarter, we were a little tired,” Slider said. “Brooke had been great with her scoring, then [Sherando] took that away. It came down to two things — turnovers and we didn’t finish shots in the paint.”
James Wood was able to stay close throughout and even put an 8-0 run together in the first half to build a five-point lead early in the second period. But Sherando closed the first half by scoring the last six points — including a steal and layup by Sites under James Wood’s basket with five seconds left — to take a 29-26 lead at the break.
Up next is an important Northwestern matchup at Millbrook on Tuesday. The Warriors, who have won six of their last seven, beat Millbrook 50-47 on Jan. 8.
“When Jan. 1 rolled around, we [told them] it’s a new year, a new season, it’s district play [now], and it’s an exciting time,” Kevin Reed said. “And, the girls have carried it through.”