Hylton happy to be home

WOODBRIDGE — It had been exactly a month since the Hylton High School girls basketball team played a game in its own gym.

Though the road had been anything but unkind, the Bulldogs were obviously happy to be back home Friday night.

Guard Jasmine Byrd scored a game-high 22 points — all in three quarters — and the state’s fifth-ranked Group AAA team extended its winning streak to 14 games with a 50-38 victory over Gar-Field.

“We hadn’t played in our place for awhile,” Byrd said. “I was feeling it tonight.”

Back in familiar surroundings for the first time in eight games, the Bulldogs showcased Byrd’s athletic ability, a tenacious full-court defense and their vast depth to improve to 18-1 overall. Eight players contributed points and several reserves like Amanda Sellman, Tanisha Brown and Keisha Hardley, who have become an increasingly important part of Hylton’s game plan, were on the floor for extended stretches as the Bulldogs put an emphatic end to Gar-Field’s three-game winning streak.

“Someone said they were on a roll, we wanted to make sure we were ready,” Hylton coach Melvin Smith said. “The big part of our season is about to begin and we just wanted to make sure we played well and won the game.”

Winning was never a concern for the Bulldogs, who scored 17 of the game’s first 19 points and led 43-15 after three quarters. The Indians didn’t score their 17th point of the game until the opening seconds of the fourth quarter on a Shannon Massie free throw.

“We wanted to jump on them and put the game away early,” said Byrd, who hit four three-pointers en route to her 15th double-figure performance of the season.

Hylton’s pressure defense, the trademark of its best start in school history, forced the visiting Indians into 14 first-quarter turnovers. Reserve guard Deborah Allen produced Gar-Field’s only points of the period and it took a 23-point fourth quarter for the Indians to finish the night with as many points as turnovers.

“That’s our style,” Smith said. “Pressing and running the floor is what we do, getting in transition and playing defense.”

The Bulldogs ran so often that Gar-Field couldn’t keep up.

Despite 18 points from Massie and 10 from senior guard Kelly Brown, the Indians (5-14) trailed the entire way and remained winless in four Cardinal District games this winter.

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