By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WOODSTOCK -- Clarke County boys basketball coach Brent Emmart had something on the top of his Christmas wish list and on Thursday night he got it -- a win for his team.
The Eagles started off strong and didn't look back in a 59-43 Bull Run District boys basketball victory over Central.
"I told the guys all that we wanted for Christmas was a win tonight, because we struggled the last couple games scoring the basketball," Emmart said. "I told them losing tonight was not an option. I told the guys we had to come out here tonight with a focused effort."
Clarke County had lost its last two games and wasted little time in righting the ship against the Falcons.
Central used a 3-pointer by Ricky Neff, and five points from Travis Cooper to take an early 8-6 lead with 3:38 left in the first quarter.
After Clarke County tied the game at 8-8, a conventional three-point play by Cody Sager gave the Falcons their last lead of the game, 11-8. The Eagles closed the period out with a 12-2 run and took a 20-13 lead.
Clarke County senior guard Morgan Warfield scored 11 of his 18 points in the opening period.
"The last couple games, he's just like the team, we all struggled a little bit," Emmart said. "Tonight he had a breakout game which we all needed. It was good for his psyche as well going into the Christmas break."
Things only got worse for the Falcons. Clarke County quickly built the lead to double-digits and led 39-23 at the half.
"I thought we gave up way too many easy plays," Central coach Brandon Shields said. "We were getting beat on drives to the basket. They were kicking out for 3's. It just wasn't there for us on the defensive end tonight for whatever reason. Things kind of got bad, and it kind of snowballed."
The Eagles (3-2) were also using a box-and-one to slow down Central senior Travis Cooper, and Emmart said he was happy with the game plan. They held Cooper to 11 points.
"We struggled with it," Shields said of the box-and-one. "We need other guys to step up and make plays, and in the heat of the moment it just didn't get done for us."
The Falcons (3-3) trailed by at least 17 points most of the second half, until they cut it to 16 in the final minutes.
Warfield and Sean McDonald each had 18 to lead the Eagles. The pair were also the main ones defending Cooper throughout the game.
Emmart said it was a big win for his team, who got off to a late start this season due to an extended football season.
"We just need court time," Emmart said. "Each practice and each game we just got to get better and we are. Tonight was a step in the right direction for us."
Cooper was the only player in double figures for Central. Sam Barbour had nine points, while Neff and Sager had eight each.
Shields said the Falcons didn't do a good job handling adversity against the Eagles.
"It's a toughness thing right now," Shields said. "We responded well earlier this season when adversity came. I thought tonight we did not respond very well when adversity came. They threw a few curveballs at us, and we just didn't do what we needed to do to combat that."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd