Hot-shooting Warriors rout Millbrook boys 80-58

Posted: February 1, 2014

Special to The Winchester Star

Sophomore Azjier Outler (left) had nine assists and gave Logan Ferguson and Millbrook plenty of headaches on the defensive end as well in the Warriors’ 80-58 win Friday.

STEPHENS CITY — There was just 0.7 seconds left before the end of the first half and the Sherando boys’ basketball team had time for one more shot.

On an inbounds pass, that’s basically all you have time to do. Catch and shoot, one motion. And that’s exactly what Warriors forward Grant Golden did.

The lob went right to Golden, who was facing a double-team. Golden caught it, flicked a fade from the lane, and with one bounce it dropped through as the horn sounded.

It was that kind of night for the Warriors, who led by 22 at the break and continued to score almost at will in the second half on Friday night against Millbrook. Sherando shot 72 percent from the field (33 of 46) and coasted to an 80-58 Northwestern District win over the Pioneers.

“The guys shot well — we were hoping we’d get a night like that,” said Sherando coach Garland Williams. “The guys executed the high-low well in the first half. We wanted to make sure that we finished [four quarters well]. The guys did really well. We did really well with the press. We wanted to get the ball quick and get ourselves some lanes to work with, and the guys executed that well.”

The Warriors shared the ball extremely well, always looking for the best option, wherever that might be. A prime example was sophomore guard Azjier Outler, who had a game-high nine assists against Millbrook. Outler did not attempt a shot in the game.

“We just had a hot night tonight and we rolled the hand that we had,” said Sherando senior guard Isaiah Williams, who finished up as one of four Warriors to reach double figures, putting in 15 points. “We were knocking down jump shots. We’re usually a drive-first team and get to the cup and dish off. But we were knocking down shots [everywhere] and tried to ride it out.”

The Warriors already had one lopsided win in the books this season against Millbrook, winning 72-52 on Jan. 8 in Winchester. But with the Pioneers fresh off an upset win on Tuesday against Handley, Sherando had no desire to let Millbrook hang around to try and pull off another stunner.

Sherando scored every which way it could to storm out to a 20-7 lead after one period. Golden dropped in seven points and Williams had five. The Warriors allowed the first and last buckets of the period, but their focus was at a top level because they knew the importance of staying the course to add another district win (Sherando won by 10 on Tuesday at James Wood) for the week.

“We knew they had a big win against Handley on Tuesday,” said Golden, who led all scores with 24 points to go with six rebounds and two assists. “We talked in the locker room about how they were going to come out ready, so we had to come out and play our game, be patient on offense and just run hard.”

The Pioneers had opened the scoring with Chris Oates scoring off a nice backdoor cut, but the Warriors got the next nine points and the blowout was on. Dilan Heskett, starting on senior night, hit a 3-pointer off the left wing, classmate Williams got two off a strong drive, Golden scored off a lob, and fellow twin tower and senior Jeremiah Curtis took a pass from Golden off the low block and scored to make it 9-2 with 3:21 left.

A baseline jumper from Golden had Sherando up 14-4 with 2:18 left and forced a Millbrook timeout, and Jordan Henry burned the Pioneers from deep when the teams returned to the floor for a 13-point lead at the 1:35 mark.

A basket and a foul from Golden finished off the quarter for the Warriors, who shot 8 of 13 from the field and already owned a 13-point lead heading to the second quarter.

If the Warriors (6-8, 4-2 Northwestern) were hoping for good opportunities to score, then things certainly fell into place plenty in the first half. Sherando never slowed its pace and was able to score inside and out. The Pioneers could not guard the length that Golden and Curtis present to a lot of teams, and throughout the game the Warriors utilized that strength.

Golden had 11 points by halftime and he would reach double figures for a half again when the second half rolled around. The Warriors led 38-16 at the break and they would follow that with a pair of 21-point quarters to finish things out, never losing focus to attack the basket and not let Millbrook hang around long enough to make a late comeback.

“Tuesday night at James Wood we had a big lead at halftime and they ended up coming back and got it under 10 [points],” said Golden. “At halftime [Coach Williams] told us that we needed to come out with the same intensity, pick it up and finish it out.”

Golden hit 10 of 12 shots from the field, and Curtis hit all four of his shots. Williams (6 of 10) could score inside or out, Henry (10 points) could pop it from long (two made 3s) or drive hard for points, and Curtis was good for the double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) club and swatting shots (three blocks) on the other end.

When you shoot better from the field (71.7 percent was the actual mark) than the foul line (9 of 13, 69 percent) on a night where you reach 80 points, it’s hard to find fault with much when it comes to the way Sherando executed offensively.

“That was probably our best shooting night for the whole season,” said Golden. “I don't know, I guess we went hard in practice [to prepare]. We actually got a lot more shots up in practice this week and went through a lot more shooting drills. So I think it paid off.”

The Warriors, despite giving up 42 second-half points, did do a good job shifting through their rotations on the defensive side early on to try an establish ways to shut down the Pioneers (3-14, 1-3). Millbrook missed nine of its first 10 shots and really did not get into any consistent flow until the second half. And by then, the Pioneers were too far behind to hope to make serious dent.

Millbrook coach Derek Butler admitted that facing two strong bigs like Golden and Curtis was a challenge, but he still had a hard time stomaching such a sub-par effort to defend, especially coming off the win over Handley.

“Our defensive effort was awful,” said Butler. “We didn’t provide any resistance, for the most part. That’s disappointing. You know, coming off a good win against Handley. And, that’s great. But we haven’t had a lot of wins and I think maybe we thought [coming into Friday] that we thought we were a little better than we were, so this was a little reality check [Friday].”

Millbrook got its usual point supply from guard Zach Harrell, who scored 12 of his 19 points in the third period. Logan Ferguson found his touch late (nine of his 12 points came in the fourth), but no one else had more than six points for the Pioneers, who shot 34 percent (22 of 64) from the field.

“We just came out looking to play defense from the start,” said Isaiah Williams. “That’s what we tried to stress. Then we got the ball to the open players [Sherando had assists on 27 of 33 made baskets] and we were knocking down shots.”