By Greg Brill - firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG - Madison County can score inside and out. It can use its vast experience to wear down teams. The Mountaineers don't lose much when they go to their bench, and a reserve led them in scoring Friday night.
And like any good team, Madison County can make it hurt if an opponent goes into a funk.
During a stretch that Strasburg likely would have liked to end sooner, Madison County scored on eight straight possessions and 16 consecutive points to hold a comfortable lead late in the first period.
The Rams kept up a lot better in the second half, but a 20-point hole at the break was too much to overcome as Group A No. 1 ranked Madison County coasted to a 78-64 win in the Bull Run District opener for both teams.
"Going on the road you want to try and start out physical and be tough on the ball so you can generate some easy baskets," first-season Madison County coach Ben Breeden said. "You don't know how your kids are going to come out and shoot. In the second half, [Strasburg] got hot. But we played really solid in the first half, got some easy transition baskets, and that was key for us."
With school career scoring leader Logan Terrell struggling with foul trouble, Patrick Lucas came off the bench and used his size to dominate for second-chance points. Lucas made 8-of-9 shots, all three of his free throws, and scored a game-high 19 points.
"It's been a great rotation so far, with [Lucas], David [Falk], and Logan," Breeden said. "We don't have to change anything that we try to do. Lucas does a great job for us."
Falk also used his height well to score inside and out, adding 13 points for Madison County (11-0, 1-0). Matt Garr scored 11 and Jerrell Carter had 10 for the Mountaineers, who made 48 percent (29-of-61) of their shots from the field and had two periods where they scored at least 24 points.
"They're a real good ballclub, and everybody knows that," Strasburg coach Millson French said. "When you come in you've got to hope their game is off a little bit and yours is as good as it can be.
"They're pretty impressive. They're big and athletic. They're pretty tough to handle."
After getting just 19 shots in the first half, the Rams (4-6, 0-1) attacked a lot better after the break. Down 40-20 at halftime, Strasburg found lots of scoring options in the second half. The Rams kept up with Madison County for most of the third period, putting up 23 points.
Even down the stretch, with the outcome all but sealed, Strasburg continued to play hard. The Rams showed lots of balance, something that has been missing at times this season.
"They were attacking better," Breeden said. "They were kicking out and getting great looks from the outside. They did a great job in the second half finding the open man and knocking down shots."
Strasburg still got its top point total from Bub McKelvey (17 points), but Jordan Williams (13 points) did a good job slicing to the basket, forward Brian Hutter (12 points, two 3-pointers) found good touch with his jumper, and Derek Buckley came back to reach double-digits (10 points) after missing most of the first half with foul trouble.
"I thought we got some real good minutes out of a lot of kids," French said. "Some of the things I have been talking to them about is we need to be more patient and we need to get more people involved. Brian, he's really coming. I mean, every game, he's getting more consistent. Derek had a real good second half. We just can't afford for him to take himself out of the game [with fouls]."
The Rams hung tough in the opening minutes, tying the game at 8 on a Buckley 3-pointer. But after two free throws by Falk put the Mountaineers back ahead, the Rams fell apart.