By Jeff Nations
STRASBURG -- From the way Strasburg High School's girls basketball team was getting after it on defense Tuesday night, you'd think the Rams were locked in an epic battle against Bull Run District rival Rappahannock County.
They weren't, though. The Rams simply overpowered the youthful Panthers in a 68-24 victory, combining relentless rebounding and nagging pressure for the season-opening win.
"I really liked our energy," Strasburg coach Joel Morgan said. "That was a focus coming in. I didn't know a lot about [Rappahannock County] -- new coach. I knew the point guard they had was a pretty decent player, so I just wanted us to come out and focus on us and play with a lot of energy and a lot of effort and we really did right from the start."
Strasburg (1-0, 1-0 Bull Run District) trailed 2-0 after Kayla Robey's game-opening jumper, but never again. With Mikala Alsberry and Kenzy McKelvey chipping in five points each in the first quarter, the Ram led 21-11 by the end of that period.
It was mostly downhill from there for the Panthers, who managed just five points in the second quarter as the Rams put the game away. Seven Strasburg players scored in the second period, led by Carey Scott's six points, as the hosts took a commanding 43-16 halftime lead.
Strasburg kept building on that advantage, even while liberally using the entire roster through much of the game. Every player on the team logged significant minutes, which might have helped boost that impressive energy level a bit.
Morgan wasn't surprised by the fire he saw from his team, since he'd been expecting it based on what he's seen so far.
"That's one of the things that kind of impressed me all throughout the preseason, was our kids really getting out and running the floor really well," Morgan said. "We're looking to throw the ball ahead, our kids are playing really unselfish. I thought that was real plus out there tonight."
The Rams forced 36 turnovers in the game (while committing 24) and dominated the boards with a 52-28 rebounding advantage.
Alsberry finished with a double-double, tallying 13 points and 12 rebounds in the victory.
"It's definitely good to get the rebounds because we can get stickbacks," Alsberry said. "Getting the ball back up for a second chance is always better, and it keeps the energy up."
Scott finished with a game-high 14 points for Strasburg,which had nine different players add to the scoring column.
Freshman point guard Kayla Robey led the Panthers with 11 points.
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>