By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
QUICKSBURG -- It was double trouble for the Strasburg Rams on Tuesday night as Stonewall Jackson senior forward Keyana Phelps got a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Generals to a 54-26 victory in a non-district girls' basketball matchup.
The first-quarter score was a reasonably competitive 14-11 in favor of the Generals, but the Rams managed only three, five and seven points in the remaining quarters as Stonewall Jackson was able to consistently execute its offense and control the inside game.
Phelps shot 9-for-14 from the floor was 4-for-7 on free throws on the night.
"We always try to come out and play as a team," Phelps said. "Coach [Jeff] Burner is always telling us to not play as an individual, but always try to get the whole team involved. This year, we've really taken that into play. It's not just one person scoring, it's everybody. And it's everyone putting something forth in the game."
Stonewall Jackson (2-0) senior guard Ashlie Clar contributed 12 points, and senior guard Cassie Conley was 3-for-5 on field goals and 1-for-1 from beyond the 3-point arc to finish with nine points. Generals junior forward Hannah Stout also finished with nine tallies.
With the exception of Kasey Fauber's second 3-pointer of the game, Strasburg's fourth-quarter offense consisted of a 4-for-8 effort at the free-throw line, with Katlyn Ayers' 4-for-4 performance accounting for all of those points.
Ayers and Emily Meinkoff each scored seven points to lead the Rams.
Both squads were lackluster at the free-throw line, with the Generals converting 8-for-22 and the Rams (1-2) going 8-for-18.
"I thought that, in the first half, our kids really, really competed hard," Rams coach Joel Morgan said. "I don't know that the score's indicative of how our kids played.
"It was a classic case. They're gonna make you shoot the ball from the perimeter. They're gonna play soft [defense] and you have to make some shots. We went a long stretch without scoring. And when you don't make shots, everything gets bad. They gradually extend the lead, and then, at some point, they break your back. At that point, they just pounded the thing inside.
"But I'm not disappointed. We're a much improved team from last year. But we played a pretty good team, an experienced team, with a lot of returners. I think our kids are gonna be OK. We just have to hang in there and compete."
Burner was happy with the Generals' defensive effort.
"I thought that, defensively, we were pretty consistent for most of the game," Burner said. "In our first game [away at Eastern Mennonite], we were 17-for-19 on free throws. So you come home and you never know from night to night. People always ask, 'Is your team ready to play?' and I always say, 'No clue.'"
"All of our kids are just improved. That's what your goal is as a coach -- to want the kids to get better. We want to be a much better team in February than we are right now.
"We definitely have all matured physically and we're trying to get better basketball-wise. And I think we've all done that. But we still have steps we want to go, because our district's [Shenandoah] a beast."