Sherando boys top Hawks 58-47 to clinch NWD title
Posted: February 2, 2013
Special to The Winchester Star
STEPHENS CITY — When the Sherando boys’ basketball team next plays on its home court, it will be in the quarterfinal round of the Region II, Division 4 tournament.
That game won’t be for another two-and-a-half weeks, so the Warriors made their last regular season game one to remember.
With Senior Night also setting as a backdrop, Sherando clinched the Northwestern District regular season title with a 58-47 win over Skyline on Friday night, using another dynamic third-period performance to lock down the top seed in the upcoming district playoffs and the Northwestern’s automatic berth to the region tournament.
One of seven seniors to be honored with their parents before tip-off, Tanner Ruths did his part with a nice double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds to help Sherando (14-5, 7-0 Northwestern) achieve the first of what it hopes are many goals this winter.
“Our journey is not over yet,” Ruths said. “We still have one last district game [at Handley, on Tuesday] and we still want to win that game. We still want to continue moving forward, keep playing harder, and keep getting better every day.”
A back-and-forth first half saw Sherando take a 33-30 lead at the break. The Warriors were up six until Hunter Stewart (team-high nine points) hit a shot that banked in off the glass and gained a foul. After Stewart completed his three-point play, Skyline tied it when forward Nick Helmick (eight points, eight rebounds) set a high-post screen for Dayvon Haight to slide around and get open off the right wing to drain a 3-pointer with 1:02 left to make it 30-30.
Ruths came down and let loose with a deep 3-pointer that fell with 43 seconds left for Sherando’s 33-30 lead. When they came back to the floor, the Warriors pushed the lead out, just like they have done in so many district games this season.
A 9-2 run to begin the third period provided the Warriors with their first double-digit lead of the game. Senior forward Aaron Miller found his stroke a little bit better and scored four points during the opening run and eight of his game-high 18 points in the period.
Taylor Loudan also drove the baseline, scored, was fouled, and finished his and-one for his first points of the game, and a layup by senior forward Tyler Morris (six points) capped the spurt to make it 42-32 with 4:37 left and forced the Hawks (12-7, 1-5) to use a timeout.
Skyline got a basket from Kylmen Breeden (eight points) out of the timeout, but Sherando scored the next nine points as Ruths hit another 3-pointer and had five points in the spurt and Miller added four more for a 17-point lead late in the third.
To put themselves in a better position to keep their unbeaten streak alive in district play, the Warriors outscored the Hawks 18-7 in the third period to push a three-point lead to 14 (51-37) with eight minutes to play. And though the Warriors had to withstand a late 7-0 run by Skyline, baskets by Loudan and Miller in a slow-down fourth for Sherando made sure the win was locked down.
Skyline did a much better job of competing with Sherando in the second meeting after the Warriors won by 30 (77-47) on Jan. 11 in Front Royal.
But as they have all season in district play, the Warriors had the right chemistry when it mattered.
“It was big to spread [the lead] back out,” Ruths said of the third-period outburst. “They closed the gap some [in the fourth period], but it was good to spread the lead out [in the third] because then you can get in a comfort zone and you can be comfortable with how you play.”
After Skyline was able to score around the basket and control tempo at times in the first half, Sherando coach Garland Williams was glad his team got back to playing their style of basketball and swing momentum in their direction.
“They did a much better job against us in the first half this time,” Williams said. “Helmick played well inside and their guards were knocking down shots. We made some decent adjustments [at the half] and that helped us spread the lead out, on both ends.
“We now get a regional game here. You have your guys set a goal and [winning the Northwestern] was one of them. We knew there would be strong teams to face in our district. Our guys are not very big, but I think we’re very efficient. When we have things go our way, we can be pretty tough to beat.”
In recent games, the wins have been few for Skyline. But at least first-year coach Jacob Bates can see improvements that might not show up on the scoreboard. His squad played with plenty of intensity against Sherando, but the shots again failed to fall on a regular basis. Despite turning the ball over just 11 times, Skyline could not overcome 32-percent shooting (18 of 56) from the field and scoring just 17 second-half points.
“I’m real happy with our effort,” Bates said. “They’re playing their butts off and they are practicing hard. They’re sure not satisfied with the results.
“... We’re executing on offense but we’ve got to put the ball in the basket. We were happy with the shots we got. We knew we had to keep up with them in the third [period] in order to be in the game with them in the fourth. They’re a really, really good basketball team. You don’t want to be down to them going to the fourth, with the way they take care of the basketball and the way they cut to the basket.”