By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STRASBURG -- Manassas Park was focused on stopping Strasburg center Jonathan Kloosterman. The Cougars used a 2-3 zone to slow down the 6-foot-3 senior, but they didn't account for Ryan Smoot's game inside the paint.
The junior had a strong first half to help lead the Rams to a 51-32 victory over the Cougars in Bull Run District action.
"We got a lot of options inside offensively, so that helps," Smoot said. "We got a few guys that can knock down shots on the perimeter, and it just opened up for me tonight."
Kloosterman needed only 16 points to reach 1,000 for his career, but the Cougars collapsed on him every time he touched the ball, and he finished with four points.
"They were really trying to take away Jonathan," Strasburg coach Matt Hiserman said. "We knew that was what they were going to try to do, so early on we swung the ball a couple times, and had chances to get it to him in the right spots and didn't."
Both teams struggled in the first period, but the Rams closed it out with a 5-0 run to take a 9-4 lead.
Strasburg (12-7, 8-5 Bull Run) extended the run to 13-0, including seven points from Smoot. A jumper and a 3-pointer by Manassas Park's Troy Fields cut the lead to 17-9 with 2:04 left in the first half.
Back-to-back baskets by Smoot and Ryan Murphy extended the lead to 12, before Fields hit another 3-pointer to cut the lead to 21-12 at the half.
Smoot had all 11 of his points in the first half.
"It was nice," Smoot said. "They haven't been falling the last few games. We're just trying to move the ball around, and when it's your turn, and you have a good look, try to knock it down."
"Ryan [Smoot] knows where to be, he knows how to find gaps in zones, and can take his time and find the right spots," Hiserman said. "He needed that offensively to help get his confidence back."
Hiserman said they made some adjustments offensively in the second half, which helped open things up offensively.
Tyler Doman hit a 3-pointer, and Trevin Howard hit two treys to help Strasburg pull away for good. Strasburg closed the third period out on a 14-4 spurt.
"[The switch we made] allowed us to have three guys moving through the zone and made them shift a little bit more," Hiserman said. "And allowed us a little more penetration and kick it to the other side."
Strasburg was able to play all 15 players, and had 12 players score in the contest.
Fields led the Cougars with 18 points. Doman finished with eight for Strasburg.
The Rams now have a big game at George Mason on Friday. The Mustangs, who are also in Conference 35 with the Rams, are a game ahead of Strasburg in the district standings. The game could have a big impact on seeding for the conference tournament, and an automatic regional berth.
"We got them the first time here, which I know they don't like, and they feel like they should have won, so it will be a battle Friday," Smoot said. "We'll have to bring our A-game. It will be a game of runs. We know they're probably going to press us, so we better come ready to play."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd