By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WOODSTOCK -- Strasburg coach Millson French told his team at halftime of Thursday night's game with Central that they needed to get the ball inside more -- and his players listened.
Strasburg 6-foot-3 center Jonathan Kloosterman had a strong third quarter to help the Rams pull out a 57-44 win over the Falcons in Bull Run District action.
"He's really tough inside," French said of Kloosterman. "He's got great touch. We gotta make an effort to get it to him when people are behind him and on his back. It's just good, sound basketball to get to him."
The game was close throughout the first half, but scored a conventional three-point play with 0.7 seconds left in the half to give Strasburg a 24-18 lead.
Kloosterman scored 11 of his team's first 13 points of the second half to help the Rams take an 11-point lead.
"Our team did a good job of getting the ball inside," Kloosterman said. "Getting inside helps us a lot."
Kloosterman's scoring barrage was part of a 16-8 run for the Rams. Central's Travis Cooper hit a 3-pointer with 56 seconds left in the quarter to cut the lead to 40-29. A driving layup by Tommy Caison stretched the lead back to 13 entering the fourth quarter.
The Falcons (4-8, 2-5) didn't go away quietly, as Cooper scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 42-34.
Baskets by Ryan Smoot and Caison, and a free throw by Kloosterman gave Strasburg a 47-36 lead with 2:56 left.
Central had one more run left. Cooper hit a 3-pointer and two free throws to cut the lead to 49-41 with 1:09 remaining. After a missed free throw by Strasburg, the Falcons turned the ball over and the Rams were able to hit enough free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
"We just made some critical turnovers there in [the fourth quarter]," Central coach Mickey Clinedinst said. " With about three minutes or so left, we turned the ball over after we got a turnover. They kicked it away and we kicked it away."
French said he was not happy with how his team played with the lead.
"We've got to spend more time on late-game situations," French said. "The last two games I didn't think we played particularly well when we had the lead."
The first half was a little slow for both teams offensively. Strasburg had six turnovers in the first quarter, but still managed to have a 9-7 lead after the first eight minutes.
The Falcons took a 14-11 lead on a 3-pointer by Ricky Neff with 5:18 left in the first half for their biggest lead of the game.
"The first half neither team really got off to a good note," Clinedinst said. "We had a lot of tough shots that didn't go in the first half. If we would have made a few of those, it might have been a different flow of the game for us."
Strasburg (13-1, 6-1) responded with an 8-2 run and never trailed the rest of the way.
Kloosterman said it was sweet revenge for him, after suffering two tough losses to Central in football this season.
"We were just coming into the game ready to get some revenge," Kloosterman said. "That's really all I was thinking about was getting some revenge, and the gym was packed so it was a good place to do it."
Cooper led Central with 18 points, while Neff and Brandon Ritter had 12 each.
Kloosterman led the Rams with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Caison had 18 points, three assists and four steals.
The Rams are 13-1, and now have a big showdown at William Monroe on Wednesday. The Dragons are the only team to beat the Rams this season.
"They got us by five, it was close," Kloosterman said. "We're going to work hard these next couple practices and prepare for them. And hopefully we'll get that win."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org