By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STRASBURG -- Strasburg brought a strong student section "The Mountain" to its girls basketball game with Central on Friday night, but it was the Falcons who walked away with the victory.
Central started off strong and led the entire way in a 52-44 girls basketball Bull Run District victory over Strasburg.
"The crowd definitely had us a little fired up, because that was the most intense crowd we've faced all year," Central senior guard Katelyn Poston said. "We kind of knew that going into the game, because of all the hype that was going on social media. I'm definitely really proud of the way we played, and we kind of played through a lot of adversity. And the crowd motivated us more than it slowed us down, I think."
The Falcons (7-2,) opened up with an 8-0 lead, and the game went back and forth from there. Strasburg (5-5) was able to cut the to 13-12 with 3:53 left in the first half on a free throw by Kelsey Jenkins.
Central also had three players with at least two fouls at that point in the half. The Falcons responded with an 11-4 run to end the first half, including six points from Poston.
Central sophomore Meredith Phillips also made a conventional three-point play late in the first half, which may have helped get her game going in the second half.
"I think that gave her a little more confidence," Central coach Mallory Skarupa-Minster said.
Skarupa-Minster said she had a little talk with Phillips to take better shots, and in the third period she provided a boost for the Falcons. Phillips scored six of her nine points in the period.
The Falcons were able to build their lead to 36-22 with 3:31 left in the third period.
Strasburg then made a run of its own. A 3-pointer by Jenkins and one by Kenzy McKelvey helped cut the lead to 36-31 with 1:47 left in the third period.
"I thought the first half we did not play well enough offensively," Strasburg coach Joel Morgan said. "I thought we played better defensively in the second half, made some more shots,. But the first half we just did not make enough shots on offense. At times we were rushing a little bit."
The Falcons led 40-34 after three periods, and quickly stretched the lead to 44-34 on a basket and two free throws by Poston with 6:50 left in the game. The Falcons led by at least eight points the rest of the way.
The Falcons beat Stonewall Jackson last weekend and Poston said it was nice to get the Shenandoah County sweep this week.
"It feels great. It feels awesome. Back-to-back [wins over rivals] of all things is definitely amazing," Poston said. "I think we're getting better as a team. And we're definitely coming along each game and getting better."
Mikala Alsberry led the Rams with 14 points. Strasburg has played some top teams in the district close, but Morgan said the team is still looking for that big win.
"We were competitive tonight, competitive at George Mason, now we got to get over the hump and win one of those -- get a big win for ourselves," Morgan said. "We've already gotten to the point where we think we can compete with some of the better teams in the district. But now it's finding that little bit that's get you to the other side. We're going to keep fighting. We're going to keep looking for it. If they want it, they'll find it, they'll get it."
Poston led Central with 24 points and four assists, and Brooklyn Pumphrey had three points and eight rebounds for the Falcons.
Central hosts Loudoun Valley today at 6 p.m. in a match-up of Conference 28 teams.
"We don't know a whole lot about them, but we know that they're definitely solid," Skarupa-Minster said. "We're going to try to be ready for them. It should be a good game. I think we're closely matched as far as skill level."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd