By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Central extended its early season winning streak to three Tuesday night by defeating Shenandoah County rival Strasburg 45-33, but it wasn't pretty at times as the teams' defenses dominated play.
"We're very happy with the way we played on defense," Central coach Stephanie Mathews said. "On offense, I thought that we were impatient. We need to learn to be more patient and wait for a good shot."
Central's high energy tempo kept the Rams off balance, particularly in the first half. Strasburg committed 13 first-half turnovers, giving the Falcons a lot of opportunities offensively. Unfortunately for Central, it was rarely able to take advantage of them.
Despite seven first quarter turnovers by the Rams, the Falcons were only able to score nine points in the period, and shot a dismal 4-of-15 from the field. Three of those successful field goals came from Central center Jensen Hoover, whose offensive effort proved to be the difference in the game.
The Falcons senior finished the night with 22 points, just one point short of half of Central's points for the game. Most of her buckets came from shots directly under the basket, and put-backs after misses by her teammates.
"Jensen did a nice job for us tonight," Mathews said. "She worked hard and did a great job. Our guards also did a great job of getting the ball to her in the paint. She also scored several points off put-backs, which helped us keep our lead."
Even with Hoover's offensive heroics, the rest of the Falcons were unable to generate many points. After scoring just 11 second-quarter points, Central led 20-14 at the end of the first half despite Strasburg's dismal 5-of-24 effort from the field over the same period of time.
"We did dig a little bit of a hole for ourselves in the first half with all of those turnovers," Rams coach Joel Morgan said. "But we were only behind by six at halftime, and we were able to get it to within two in the third quarter. We had our opportunities, we just couldn't put the ball in the hole."
Trailing 27-18 midway through the third quarter, the Rams put together a 7-0 run that drew them to within 27-25 with 3:27 left in the third period. Kasey Fauber and Brandy Clem were the driving force in Strasburg's comeback. Fauber hit one of her two 3-point baskets during the run, and Clem converted a layup and a foul shot into an old fashion three-point-play.
But with the game very much in doubt, the Rams went cold from the field, and were outscored 4-0 over the last three minutes of the quarter. They were only able to connect on two of their 14 field goal opportunities in the final period, giving the Falcons all the cushion they needed to come away with the win.
Clem proved to be the only effective offensive weapon Strasburg had for the night, and half of her points came from the foul line. The Rams junior was 8-of-11 from the line, and finished the game with a team-high 16 points.
"We have several girls who, in the past, were not expected to get a lot of points for us," Morgan said. "They're still trying to find themselves out there. But as long as we keep giving the effort we did tonight and continue to improve, we'll be fine."
Besides Hoover, the Falcons were having just as much trouble getting points. Brenna Cook, who contributed six fourth-quarter points, finished the night with eight. Katelyn Poston, who normally is a major contributor offensively, was only able to generate six points for the game.
Besides Clem, Fauber and Corissa Alsberry had six points each for the Rams.