By Robert Edmonds - firstname.lastname@example.org
BERRYVILLE -- Clarke County recorded a big win at home Friday night when they hosted the visiting Strasburg Rams in Bull Run District boys basketball action.
The Eagles rallied from nine points down midway through the third quarter to take the lead heading into the final period and never looked back going on to notch a 56-46 victory.
"We did a good job with our trap defense and that is what got us back into the game tonight," Eagles coach Brent Emmart said. "We weathered two big runs from a very good team and then came up with our own and never looked back."
Strasburg had two stretches during the game when they were able to pull away from their opponent, but both times Clarke County was able to withstand the surge and remain in striking distance.
The first run was at the beginning of the second period when the Rams took their first lead of the night. The Rams used a 9-0 run to open up a 17-11 lead, but Clarke County remained strong, led by sophomore Sean McDonald.
"We were able to make some plays early with our trap, but we couldn't convert on the easy shot attempts we had," Emmart said. "Then we got in foul trouble and we had to get out of it. We definitely played better when we were able to pressure the ball."
McDonald scored nine of the Eagles 10 second-quarter points, and helped Clarke County draw to within three points by intermission as the teams headed into the break with Strasburg leading 24-21.
When the second half opened, Arkell Goring led the Rams on a six-point stretch to extend the lead. After penetrating the lane for a score, Goring was fouled when he went to the basket on the next possession and connected on a pair of foul shots.
Goring then helped complete the run during a transition play when he delivered a no-look pass to Ryan Smoot for a score giving Strasburg a 30-21 lead.
This time Clarke County not only answered, but stormed ahead, outscoring Strasburg 16-5 to finish the third with a four-point advantage. Once again, McDonald led the way with nine points during the quarter as part of his career-high 26 points on the night. After a fade away jumpshot, McDonald converted a layup. Morgan Warfield scored in transition on the Eagles next trip down the court.
"Sean [McDonald] carried us at times tonight," Emmart said. "We had two of our captains who came into the game tonight sick. Credit them with fighting through it to play, but we needed someone else to help carry the load and he did a great job of that tonight."
The Eagles stretch of dominance was helped in large part to the impressive defensive pressure Clarke County utilized to rattle Strasburg. McDonald made a steal and scored, then fed Cody Taylor with an assist for a score. The 6-foot-2 guard then knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the scoring in the third and continue his team's momentum.
"When you execute the way we did tonight, you're going to get beat," Strasburg coach Millson French said. "We had guys not in position, and they couldn't make the plays we needed them too. We are a better team than this performance, and we have to get better. With three games in five days, we have to fix this quick."
With Strasburg struggling on offense, Clarke County slowed its game and then delivered a solid effort from the foul line going 10 for 14 in the final period to solidify the win. The win adds a tad more significance to the Eagles' final game against Madison County on Tuesday night as they look to wrap up the third seed in the district as tournament time approaches.