Steele, Wildcats topple Falcons
By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WOODSTOCK — Blake Steele had a height advantage against Central on Saturday night and he made the most of it.
The 6-foot-6 Warren County center dominated inside the paint, which helped open up other things for his teammates, as the Wildcats pulled out a 59-36 Bull Run District boys basketball victory over the Falcons.
“It was pretty easy. I can’t really say much other than that,” Steele said. “The guys gave me the ball, and I did some pretty basic post moves. I’m pretty experienced down low.”
Steele finished the game with 21 points and six rebounds.
Central’s tallest players are 6-foot-1, so trying to stop Steele was a very difficult task.
“We knew Steele was going to get his,” Central coach Brandon Shields said. “He’s really tough down low, and we tried a couple different things on him. He’s a good player. He’s not just big. He’s skilled around the basket as well. He’s pretty relentless down there. He’s a very tough match-up for us. We’re small anyway and height alone has been tough for us, but when it’s height with skill we struggle a little bit.”
Despite the size differential, the Falcons hung tough with the Wildcats and were tied 13-13 after the first period.
Central sophomore Austin Fadely hit two 3-pointers and had eight points in the first period.
“I thought we moved the ball really well in the first quarter,” Shields said. “I thought we were patient. I though we took great shots.”
The Wildcats (12-3, 8-2 Bull Run) started to pull away in the second period, behind the play of Steele and Casey Stewart.
Steele had 15 points in the first half, including six in 10-4 run to end the first half.
The Warren County pair had all but two of the team’s 27 first-half points.
Warren County’s Jontae Rollins gave the team a spark early in the third period as the Wildcats pulled away for good. Rollins scored back-to-back baskets during a 6-0 run that put Warren County up 33-20 with 4:57 left in the third quarter.
“We were able to get the ball inside and got some outside shots,” Warren County coach Vernon Mathews said. “Ball movement was good. We had some drives to the basket. Jontae did a really good job today driving and dishing. It was one of our better efforts of the year, so I’m really pleased.”
Baskets by Fadely and Zach Herbauh cut the lead to 33-24 with 3:11 left in the third quarter, but the Wildcats closed the period on a 9-0 run. Warren County led by at least 18 poins the rest of the way.
Mathews said the Wildcats’ defense has been solid all year, and they continued to play well defensively against the Falcons.
Central (6-10, 4-7 Bull Run) made only two field goals in the third period, and struggled shooting the ball for the last three quarters.
“I don’t think we played poorly, we just didn’t make shots,” Shields said. “We executed the game plan. They did everything I asked them to do. They played hard. They played together. We just couldn’t score. Sometimes it’s just as simple as that.”
Herbaugh led the Falcons with 11 points, while Fadely added 10.
Central has three games this week, and Shields said the team just has to move on from Saturday’s loss.
“We feel like we have a couple games coming up that we have a chance to compete in, and we need to take care of business to kind of move up in the standings a little bit,” Shields said. “There’s a couple teams we’ve beaten, a couple teams we’ve played close. We want to be at our best in February.”
Stewart finished with 17 points, while Rollins had nine for the Wildcats.
It was the second game in two days for the Wildcats, who play games on three consecutive days starting Monday. The Wildcats played back-to-back games last week, and Steele said he thinks having experienced that helps.
“After our back-to-back games last week, we found out what it’s like to play those back-to-back tough games,” Steele said. “These were back-to-back tough games. It’s all about resting yourself, icing, stretching, massaging, and it’s pretty much back out to doing what we know how to do.”
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or email@example.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd