By Jeff Nations
STRASBURG -- In more ways than one, it was a relief to get that first W in the win column for new Strasburg High School boys basketball coach Matt Hiserman.
Hiserman, who replaced longtime Rams coach Millson French following last season, didn't have to fret too long about getting off to a good start in Tuesday's game against Bull Run District rival Rappahannock County. Strasburg dealt with the customary season-opening jitters, then dispatched the Panthers for a 70-32 victory.
"I'm not worried about my debut, but for the team we got it out of the way," Hiserman said. "We're still trying to find our identity. Losing the guys we lost last year ... we lost a little bit more than people think we lost going into this year. I looked at it the other day, and right now we're playing without 48 of the 64 points a game we averaged last year."
That wasn't so apparent against Rappahannock County (0-1, 0-1 Bull Run District), as the Rams broke the game open with a dominant second quarter. Leading just 10-8 starting the second period, Strasburg (1-0, 1-0 Bull Run) delivered a knockout blow with an 18-4 run to open the frame. Senior guard Tyler Doman did most of that damage with seven points during the decisive run. Doman finished with a co-game high 14 points.
Hiserman said the Rams will lean heavily on their backcourt, especially early in the season with star post player Jonathan Kloosterman still sidelined with a football injury.
"Our guards are where we've got to find our way right now," Hiserman said. "Some of our young guards have got to grow up pretty quick. We're asking Tyler Doman to do a lot. He's used to running the wing. We're asking him to run the point, so he's still finding his way."
The Panthers never really did recover from that second-quarter spurt, and trailed 36-17 at halftime.
A pair of layups by Rappahannock County's Jackson Strickler to open the second half briefly narrowed the deficit to 15 points (36-21), but the Rams outscored their rivals 13-7 in the third.
The fourth quarter was more of the same, except that Strasburg's Mark Smoot got to put on a shooting clinic for the home crowd. Smoot was a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the 3-point arc to score 12 of his 14 points in less than a five-minute span.
"He can shoot it, he can definitely shoot it," Hiserman said of Smoot. "We've got to find spots to get some of our kids who can really shoot it on the floor. I thought at times Rapp really created some matchup problems for us because we can go a little bit bigger, but they were going four guards at times and some of our bigger guys can't guard them sometimes on the perimeter. That's something we've got to work on."
Ryan Smoot chipped in 12 points and six rebounds for the Rams. Freshman Gavin Jenkins had 11 points to lead Rappahannock County.
Doman said the transition from French to Hiserman has been fairly smooth, which showed on Tuesday.
"Not too much, we just want to run the floor a little bit more, get up and down, try to beat people down the floor," Doman said. "Defensively, it's the same thing. Every coach wants good defense."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>