By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
QUICKSBURG - Strasburg's girls basketball team made it eight in a row on Tuesday, defeating Stonewall Jackson 58-37 in a game that was over before the end of the opening period.
The Rams extended their undefeated record for the season to 8-0 with the win, and also extended their winning streak over the Generals to seven games.
"I was very proud of the kids and the way they played tonight," Strasburg coach Joel Morgan said. "I was a little nervous going into this game because it was our first one since Christmas break. We were able to play under control and were able to put a lot of pressure on them in the first half."
The pressure Morgan was referring to was a relentless full-court press that Stonewall was never able to overcome. The Generals committed 22 first-half turnovers, nine more than their number of field-goal attempts over the same period.
"You just can't play scared in basketball and that's the way we played in the first half," Stonewall coach Jeff Burner said. "To beat a press like that you need to play aggressively, and we played passively the whole first half."
The result was a 7-0 run by the Rams to begin the game and a 19-7 lead by the end of the first quarter. Jenna Smoot was the chief beneficiary of the Rams' press, scoring 12 first-period points, including two 3-pointers. The Strasburg senior finished the game with 16 points, all of them coming in the first half.
"Jenna had a great first half," Morgan said. "But the rest of our kids played really well, too. Stephanie Conde really played well in the paint. We were passing the ball crisply and all of our kids were able to make contributions offensively."
Things got even worse for the Generals in the second quarter. The Rams began the period with a 13-0 run, and the Generals were held scoreless until Hannah Stout scored on a tip-in with just 47 seconds left in the first half.
"We take a lot of pride in the way we play defense," Morgan said. "Even our bench players take great pride in the way we play defense. I thought that all of our kids had a great night playing against their offense."
Conde was a big part of the Rams offense during the game, scoring 14 points for Strasburg.
With the Rams clicking on all cylinders, and the Generals on the verge of collapse, Burner was faced with a big challenge getting his team to respond in the second half.
"I spent the entire halftime talking to our team about playing aggressively and not being intimated by them," Burner said. "We played a lot better in the second half. Part of that was the fact that Strasburg called off their press, but a lot of it had to do with our kids coming out and playing with more passion."
The first thing the Generals turned around was their turnover problem. Stonewall committed just two third-quarter turnovers and only four in the second half. That resulted in more opportunities on offense, and the Generals were able to stay even with the Rams through most of the second half.
Two big factors in Stonewall's resurgence were Heather Stout and Cassie Conley. Stout scored seven of her team-high 15 points in the final period. Conley wasn't far behind, scoring all seven of her points in the final eight minutes of play.
Ashlie Clar and Rhea Jett also had good second halves, finishing the game with six points each.