By Brad Fauber
Strasburg had the hot hand when it faced off with county rival Stonewall Jackson on Tuesday night for the second time in as many games.
The Rams shot 26 for 46 (56.5 percent) from the floor, including a 13 for 22 (59.1 percent) mark from beyond the 3-point line in a 76-49 win over the Generals. Tuesday's shooting performance was a vast improvement from when the two teams met last Wednesday, when Strasburg shot just 24 percent from the field.
"I thought we played real well together. We've got a lot of pieces -- we've got a lot of guys who can do things," said Rams coach Millson French. "We've got shooters, decent size ... I thought we really shared the ball well tonight."
While Strasburg's offense was lighting up the scoreboard, the Rams' defense was doing its part. The Rams used a tight man-to-man defense to put pressure on the ball all game, forcing the Generals into 24 total turnovers.
It didn't help Stonewall Jackson's cause that the Generals rarely could get shots to fall their way. Stonewall Jackson (0-2) shot just 17 for 48 (35.4 percent) from the floor.
"We started off much stronger than we did Wednesday night of last week. We hit a couple shots and we were right there with them," said Generals coach Patrick Smoot. "Then we went cold and they caught fire, and that's where our guys kind of backed off. And tonight that back-off cost us a lot."
Strasburg held a 10-9 lead midway through the first quarter before finishing the period on a 10-1 run. Junior guard Tyler Doman found his stroke late in the quarter, knocking down a long jumper before nailing a 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:25 left in the first period to give Strasburg an 18-10 lead.
Strasburg continued its hot shooting in the second period, pushing the lead to 39-20 heading into halftime. Senior guard Tyler Hott paced the Rams in the first half, scoring all 11 of his points in the first two periods, including a 3 for 5 mark from beyond the arc.
Stonewall Jackson shot just 28.6 percent in the first half, and the Generals had more than twice as many turnovers (13) as they did made field goals (6). Stonewall Jackson was led by junior point guard Colton Harlow, who scored 13 points, 10 of which came in the first half.
"We didn't hit our shots. Their pressure, I don't know how much it got to us, how much we were thinking about it when we were taking our shots," Smoot said. "We just backed away from them, that's the bottom line."
Strasburg (2-0) seemed intent on putting the game away early in the third quarter, as the Rams erupted for 29 points in the frame.
Strasburg sophomore Tommy Caison and Generals senior Trey Alger traded 3-pointers early in the period before Caison hit another shot from beyond the arc to give Strasburg a 45-23 advantage.
Caison scored 12 of his 16 points in the third quarter, and the 5-foot-11 guard hit a trio of 3-pointers in the frame. Doman also added 10 points in the period.
Doman led all scorers with 18 points, and was 7 for 9 from the field, including a perfect 3 for 3 from long range.
"We've been working on our shots a lot in practice," Doman said. "I've been working on my shot, getting my guide hand off. When I got hot, I just kept shooting."
Strasburg took a 66-33 lead into the fourth quarter when sophomore Noah St. Clair came off the bench and nailed a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left in the third period.
While the offensive outburst was a welcome sight for French, the long-time Rams coach praised his defense, which set the tone with good ball pressure in the opening quarter and never backed down.
"I thought we played real well defensively," French said. "We're really starting to understand how we've got to play defensively. They were really focused on where they were supposed to be.
"And more importantly, everyone got to play, and that's important for team morale."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com