Sports / The Northern Virginia Daily/nvdaily.com
Cooper, Ritter spark Falcons
By Robert Edmonds - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- The fast paced style of Central was too much for the Generals to overcome Friday night despite a valiant effort. The Falcons grabbed an early lead and then used a full-court press to help push the pace of the game and never trailed in the 74-57 win.
"Our goal was to just get out and play hard tonight," Falcons coach Mickey Clinedinst said. "We wanted to push tempo and get after it. I think we did that and I am really pleased with how we come out and played tonight."
The victory was the second straight for the Falcons after a disappointing loss to start the season with both wins coming in convincing fashion. Three Central players scored in double digits with Travis Cooper leading the way with 28 points and 12 rebounds.
Brandon Ritter also had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Falcons.
Leading early 6-3, the junior knocked down a 3-pointer and then added a pull-up jumper in the lane on the Falcons next possession to quickly extend the lead to eight points early in the first quarter.
The Generals responded quickly when Colton Harlow answered with a 3-pointer and moments later teammate Ryan Smith hit a 3-pointer of his own to help narrow the margin, but Cooper delivered a four-point play when he was fouled while shooting from behind the arc.
The shot fell and then Cooper connected from the line to finish the play and give Central a 22-14 lead at the end of the first.
The Falcons opened up the second with a 10-point run to extend their lead behind Cooper and Ritter, who each scored four during the run. Stonewall would not go away, however, as they continued to battle with Harlow and Smith leading the way.
The duo scored all but three of the Generals second quarter points, but failed to shrink the deficit falling behind 41-25 at the half.
"I think for the most part we shared the ball well and took advantage of our opportunities," Clinedinst said. "We have been getting better on the court, and I think that has come from learning to bust our tails. When you play hard, good things tend to happen."
When the second half got under way, it looked as if Stonewall would finally reel the Falcons in behind the leadership of Harlow. The junior connected on a 3-pointer to start the scoring and then notched a steal and scored on a layup running the length of the floor.
On Stonewall's next possession, Harlow hit a basket when he came off a pick play. The up tempo approach of Central was too much, however, as the Falcons continued to score at a frantic pace.
Holding a 13-point lead, Central finished the third with a seven-point run. Hayden Bauserman scored the first five points on the run and then a drive by Ricky Neff capped the short run and gave Central the lead heading into the final period.
The Generals never gave up continuing to apply pressure in the final period in hopes of reducing the margin, but they could only manage to trade points with their opponent before the final buzzer sounded.
"After the first game we were really disappointed with how we played," Cooper said. "We wanted to increase our intensity, and I think we did that the last two games. We like to play up-tempo and get everyone on the floor involved. At times when you play that fast, you are going to make mistakes, but we have been able to do what it takes to win. I think the more that we are together, we are only going to click that much better."