By Jeff Nations
STRASBURG -- John Kelly thought he might be in for a long night on Friday.
The Warren County High School girls basketball coach witnessed up close a tremendous shooting performance by host Strasburg. The Rams filled up the nets for 20 first-quarter points on 8-of-14 shooting performance.
"Strasburg had something in the water because they didn't miss a shot in the first quarter," Kelly said. "They were all beautiful outside shots. That worried me an awful lot."
Whatever it was that the Rams had going, the Wildcats' press seemed to the thing to neutralize it. Strasburg went cold after that red-hot first quarter, and Warren County steadily pulled away for a 60-39 victory in Bull Run District action.
Warren County (9-6, 8-3 Bull Run) forced 10 second-quarter turnovers as the Wildcats turned a four-point deficit into a 35-26 halftime lead.
"They went to that press and caused a few turnovers," Rams coach Joel Morgan said. "We didn't execute very good and they went on a run. From that point on, we never responded and I think that's about the first time all year that our kids never really responded. From that point on, we couldn't make a shot."
Strasburg (8-7, 4-6 Bull Run) hit just 2 of 13 attempts in the second quarter, and didn't fare much better in the second half by hitting 6 of 31 from the field the rest of the way.
Kelly said a defensive switch, plus a half-court press spearheaded by lanky senior Autumn Troxell, did wonders for the Wildcats.
"We went through three defenses trying to find the right one to play with them," Kelly said. "Once we went to our man defense, I thought we did a better job covering up the outside. The press out front with Autumn also helped a lot."
Troxell was a menace on both ends of the court, as the senior finished with a game-high 18 points and added eight rebounds on a night when teammate Alesha Adams (16 points) broke the school's 19-year-old career scoring mark.
Despite that first-half barrage of shooting, Troxell said she wasn't worried her team would get buried early.
"We knew that all we had to do was tighten up our defense a little more, put a hand in their face and move our feet more," Troxell said. "I feel like we did that, and it showed near the end of the game."
Warren County got a nice balanced effort behind Troxell and Adams. Vanessa Calevro finished with eight points, six rebounds and three blocks, Jordyn Beckner had eight points and seven rebounds, and Lauren Woodrell chipped in six points in the win.
Carey Scott, who sparked the Rams' early scoring spurt, finished with eight points. Kelsey Jenkins also had eight points, and so did Katie Dofermire. Getting extended minutes against the Wildcats' superior team height, Dofermire had one of her best games of the season as she added seven rebounds and a block. Mikala Alsberry chipped in six points and seven rebounds, but it wasn't nearly enough to offset the Rams' defensive struggles. Warren County hit 20 of 29 free throws, while Strasburg was just 2 of 12 from the free-throw line.
"The second half, especially the fourth quarter, we just kind of got smacked around," Morgan said.