By Brad Fauber
FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County's girls basketball team has placed an emphasis on shutting down the opposing team's best player the past couple games, and the strategy worked to perfection on Tuesday night against visiting William Monroe.
The Wildcats shadowed William Monroe senior Arica Brown for most of the game, and the Green Dragons simply had no answer offensively as Warren County rolled to an easy 42-18 Bull Run District and Conference 28 victory.
"We knew coming in that we were going to have to take away their best player," Wildcats coach John Kelly said. "That's kind of been our focus the last three or four games, and we've actually won the games because of taking away their best players."
Kelly said Brown gave the Wildcats (8-4, 6-2 Bull Run) some problems in the teams' first meeting back on Dec. 4, which prompted Warren County to attempt to take her out of the game.
Brown finished with just two points, and William Monroe (2-11, 2-7) shot just 12.2 percent (6 for 49) from the floor in the game.
"[Brown] was actually able to go coast-to-coast on us, where she got a rebound and went all the way in for layups," Kelly said of Warren County's first meeting with the Dragons, which the Wildcats won 49-29. "And it wasn't that she was making the layups, she made her foul shots. I think she put in eight to 10 points in the first half against us doing that, so we wanted to take that part away."
Warren County's focus on Brown allowed the Wildcats to jump out to a quick 10-2 lead after one period, as four different Wildcats registered points in the first frame.
That lead quickly rose to double digits in the second period, as William Monroe was held without a field goal in the frame.
Wildcats senior Jordyn Beckner scored the first three points of the quarter to extend Warren County's lead to 13-2, but William Monroe's Kaila Stevens hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead back to nine with 6:23 left in the first half.
Warren County senior Lauren Woodrell's bucket in the paint was answered by a pair of free throws by Brown to keep the Wildcats' lead at nine, but junior Autumn Troxell nailed a pair of deep jumpers that started a 10-0 Warren County run to end the half and give the Wildcats a 25-6 lead.
William Monroe shot just 1 for 29 in the first half.
Beckner spent most of the night shadowing Brown, while Troxell and Arianna Smoot took over the responsibilities when Beckner needed a breather.
"Jordyn is a hard-nosed player. She doesn't always score the most points ... but she is our glue that holds us together on the court, especially on defense," Kelly said. "Even though she may be guarding a girl up front, she's still always talking to her teammates, seeing what's going on. And that really helps to have a person with her speed and her height."
The Dragons finally hit their second field goal of the game when Stevens scored a basket in the paint a minute into the second half, but Warren County steadily built a comfortable 34-12 lead by the end of the period and Kelly was able to get his bench players some action in the fourth quarter.
Troxell led the Wildcats with a game-high 11 points, while Beckner and Woodrell each finished with nine points apiece for Warren County. Wildcats' leading scorer Alesha Adams finished with just three points, but that was partly by design, Kelly said.
"We had focused on balanced scoring tonight," he said. "[Adams has] been run hard the past week and a half, so we wanted to give her a little bit of time [off] -- keeping her in the game lets the game flow well, but she doesn't always have to score. We have other players to step up and that happened tonight."
Stevens and Makayla Morris led William Monroe with six points apiece.
Warren County returns to action on Friday as the Wildcats host district rival Central in a 6 p.m. contest.
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD