Sherando girls blitz Handley, 64-34
Posted: January 16, 2013
Special to The Winchester Star
STEPHENS CITY — Now that he has everyone over the flu bug, Sherando girls’ basketball coach Kevin Reed can find out just what kind of team he has.
A six-game losing streak before Northwestern District play began must seem like a long time ago for the Warriors, who improved to 4-0 in the league by using strong defensive pressure early to put the outcome to rest in a 64-34 romp over Handley on Tuesday night.
Getting lots of possessions to score easy baskets through their full-court pressure defense, Sherando (7-8 overall) busted out to an 18-point lead midway through the first quarter and led 25-10 at the end of the period.
By the time freshman forward Lauren Reed made three free throws with 4:03 left in the first period to send Sherando’s lead to 20-2, Handley (8-6, 1-2) had taken just two shots from the field and turned the ball over nine times.
For four quarters, the Warriors put an emphasis on playing aggressive defense, regardless of the score. Handley was limited to 12 made baskets and 25 percent shooting and were guilty of 20 turnovers.
“We just came out with a lot of intensity, pressure on the ball, and getting layups and run-outs,” said Lauren Reed, who scored a co-game high 22 points in the win. “We had a ton of energy.”
Just a week before, Sherando had used a huge start to bust out to an 18-5 lead after one period before holding on late to beat three-time state champion and district rival Millbrook. This time, the Warriors were eager to build another big lead in the first eight minutes and keep building off their lead.
Lauren Reed opened the scoring with a 3-pointer just six seconds in to give Sherando the lead for good. Handley freshman Alysandra Worrell made two free throws to get the Judges on the board before the Warriors went top-heavy with full-court pressure. For long stretches of the first period, the Judges found it hard to even get past half-court against Sherando’s trapping defenses and the game quickly got away.
During an 18-0 run that spanned just 2:32, the Warriors did an outstanding job of sharing the ball and using a short floor to score quick. Layups and short jumpers were the way to go, as sophomore forward Heidi Brown got three baskets in close, Reed scored two more, and Jessica Hakel scored a layup.
A basket by Brown off a dump-down with 2:13 left made it 25-6 Sherando and forced Handley coach Marvin Scott to use his second timeout of the first.
By quarter’s end, Reed had scored 10 points, Brown had eight, and the Warriors had forced 10 turnovers (half of Handley’s game total), made 9 of 16 shots from the field (2 of 3 on 3-pointers), and all five of their free throws.
“That was the goal — to put [Handley] back on its heels early,” Kevin Reed said. “We’ve got an unselfish team and we’ve got kids that are willing to shoot. And we’re willing passers. We had  assists in the game, and it all comes [through] our defense.
“Interestingly when we went through that [losing] spell when we weren’t playing real well, part of the reason was because our confidence was low. It’s the first time in my [coaching] career that I've benched multiple players for not shooting. We also had some kids that were down with the flu at the time and then we went down to Charlottesville [for the NBC 29/Daily Progress tournament], we had one practice, and faced a lot of junk defenses.
“When we got back from that tournament [an 0-3 showing], we finally got some practice time. We were able to correct some things, we were able to put kids in position to make plays, and to have them feel more confident about what they’re doing. When you work hard and feel good about yourself, you’re going to play at a higher level.”
Despite scoring only 11 points in the second quarter, Sherando still could count on its defense. Handley missed all 12 of its shots from the field and added just four points as the Warriors took a 36-14 lead at the break.
The Judges had entered on a three-game winning streak and like Sherando, has plenty of youth in its lineup. The Judges graduated all five starters from last season’s Region II Division 3 qualifier and had a hard time handling the pressure applied by Sherando on Tuesday.
“We played on reaction instead of what we practice,” Scott said. “inn a game like this if you don't apply what you practice, it's going to be tough. [Coach Reed] has a young team out there too, and they're going to get you. It was a lesson learned for us. We were a little relaxed, and when you [face] that [kind of] pressure, you’re not used to it.”
The Warriors hit another big run to start the third period, with Brown enjoying a big quarter. Brown scored twice from in close, including an and-one during a 10-0 spurt that sent Sherando’s lead to 32. Brown later hit her second 3-pointer of the game and scored eight of Sherando’s 18 points in the third.
The Warriors again proved they could count on getting scoring from outside Lauren Reed, as Brown also scored 22 points in the win (and led the team with seven rebounds and five blocks), and sophomore guard Dani Rizzari added nine.
“It’s definitely going to help us [getting more players to score],” said Lauren Reed, who entered the game leading the Northwestern in scoring. “Everyone is starting to become more and more confident as the season goes on, which is definitely a good thing. We’re getting on a roll, but we haven't even played our best basketball yet.”
After watching his team again get after it on defense to post a second straight win by at least 30 in a district game, Kevin Reed was happy his team worked especially hard to limit Handley’s chances to score.
“We had a nice bounce defensively,” Kevin Reed said. “We were active hands and had 27 deflections to go along with our  steals. So that’s where we have to be. If you don't have a true post player, it’s hard to run through things. I'm an impatient coach. I like the ball flying. Girls basketball needs to be a high tempo game to have people come out and enjoy it.”
The Judges, despite facing big deficits throughout the game, kept competing. Their top two scorers on the season again picked up the most points, with Worrell dropping in 12 (to go with six rebounds and four assists) and fellow freshman Angelica Robinson scoring 13 points and grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds before fouling out late in game.
“I was encouraged that they continued to play,” Scott said. “They continued to play through adverse situations. I’m proud of them. When you have three freshman starting, it’s not bad. You know Millbrook and Sherando are going to come right at you. I see us making strides.
“We’ve told them ‘Now, you've been in the fight. Next time, you should be a little bit more prepared to handle that.’ And I think they will.”