Sports / The Northern Virginia Daily/nvdaily.com
Wildcats smother Rams in first round of tourney
By Jeff Nations
Here's some fun with numbers for you.
What does 33 points and 30 turnovers add up to in a basketball game?
A loss, usually.
Here's the exception, provided by Warren County in Thursday's opening round of the Strasburg Tip-Off Tournament.
Outrebound your opponent by 29 boards and hold them to four field goals, and you're on your way to an improbably easy 33-16 victory.
Settled into a 2-3 zone just daring the Rams to shoot, the towering Wildcats cleaned up in the paint to the tune of a 47-18 rebounding edge. And when the Rams did shoot, they didn't hit much. Strasburg (0-2) connected on just 4 of 52 shots (7.7 percent) for the night.
"We were bad. We weren't very good, and I'm shocked," Strasburg coach Joel Morgan said. "I just don't know what to say about the way we played tonight. I know we can play better than that, but we didn't play too good tonight."
Warren County (1-2) had a good deal to do with short-handed Strasburg's woes. The Wildcats feature seven players on the roster listed at 6 feet tall or more, while Strasburg has none.
"We knew they were a shooting team and we knew we had to shut them down, put hands in their face," Warren County junior forward Alesha Adams said. "We're a big team. That's what we can do."
Adams provided the bulk of the scoring for the Wildcats, totaling a game-high 14 points. Adams also pulled down 10 rebounds for a double-double, but her total ranked only second on the team. Autumn Troxell finished with a game-high 13 rebounds for the Wildcats.
Warren County's advantage was apparent from the outset, as the Wildcats held Strasburg without a field goal in the first quarter to grab a 9-1 lead.
Kelsey Jenkins finally canned a 3-pointer with 6:59 to go in the half for the Rams' first field goal and Katie Dofermire followed with a free throw to cut the deficit to 11-5, but the Wildcats closed out the first half with a 10-0 run. That, despite turning the ball over 11 times in the second quarter.
"They did a good job of slowing us down, too," Warren County coach John Kelly said. "We're a much faster team. We just could not push the ball tonight."
The Rams stayed within striking range with another solid defensive effort in the third quarter, holding the Wildcats to just two points while forcing eight more turnovers to close the gap to 23-11.
Dofermire's spin move to the basket early in the fourth quarter pulled Strasburg back to within 10 at 33-23, but Adams answered on the Wildcats' ensuing possession with a runner in the lane before both teams hit another cold spell.
"I'm not going to deny the fact that when they get back in that zone, they're pretty big, and we're not," Morgan said. "But we weren't really executing, and some of that was my fault. I thought we executed better in the second half against it. We started doing some things and finding some soft spots. We were able at least penetrate the zone some."
The Wildcats managed enough offense over the final five minutes to pull away for good, outscoring Strasburg 8-3 during that closing stretch.
"We can play better," Adams said. "We played with intensity, but we can come out and play with much more intensity and that's what we plan to do coming up next game."
Strasburg, which had only 15 turnovers to the Wildcats' 30, never could generate enough offense to really threaten despite hanging around for most of the game. Part of the problem was numbers for the Rams -- two players missed the game due to injury or illness, while several others are just getting back into action and haven't practiced much.
"I don't think we really gave ourselves a chance tonight to really even find out what kind of game we could've played," Morgan said.
"... Realistically, you hold somebody to 30 points, you oughta win."
Rachel Funkhouser led the Rams with five points.
With the win, Warren County advances to Saturday night's championship against Luray. The Bulldogs beat James Wood 64-45 in Thursday's other semifinal.
Strasburg will face the Colonels in the consolation game at 6:15 p.m., and the Wildcats face off against the Bulldogs in Saturday's championship scheduled for 7:45 p.m.
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>