By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WILLIAMSBURG -- Strasburg may not have won its game against Bruton on Thursday night, but the Rams certainly showed they could play with the Panthers.
The Panthers used a big run in the third period to pull away in an eventual 72-43 victory in the 2A East Region boys basketball quarterfinals.
The final score was not indicative of the game, as the Panthers scored 13 of the last 15 points in the last two minutes of the game.
"I thought we played really well," Strasburg coach Matt Hiserman said. "We were doing what we wanted to do. We executed it well."
The Rams wanted to slow the game down and not let the Panthers play their usual up-tempo game, and the Rams did well with their game plan at times.
Bruton took an early 15-2 lead, but Strasburg was able to battle back.
Back-to-back conventional three-point plays by Ryan Smoot helped cut the lead to 17-8 after the first period.
The two teams went back and forth for most of the second period, but the Panthers scored five points in the last 15 seconds to take a 32-17 lead at the half.
Strasburg was in foul trouble throughout the game, and Hiserman said he thought his team weathered the foul trouble in the first half.
However, that changed in the third period. Strasburg's Tyler Doman drained a 3-pointer to start the second half and cut the lead to 12, but was called for his third foul a minute later.
Strasburg's Jonathan Kloosterman picked up his third foul a minute later ,and Matt Clutter picked up his fourth a minute after that.
The Rams had to substitute in, and the Panthers took advantage.
"The guys on the floor got a little rattled," Hiserman said. "We knew it could happen with [Bruton]. You could be within 10-15 points, and before you know it, you're down 25."
Strasburg turned the ball over 10 times in the third period, and the Panthers built the lead to as much as 25 in the quarter.
Strasburg was able to cut the lead to as little as 18 in the fourth a couple times, but the lead was too big too overcome.
"Give them a lot of credit -- they're quick, they're athletic and if you make mistakes they're going to capitalize on it," Hiserman said. "They're a good team. Take nothing away from them.
"I'm really proud of the way the kids represented themselves, their families, the school, the community, and I think they showed that we can play with a team like them."
The Panthers (23-1) were led by Marcus Carter with 16 points, and Lonnie Swinton Jr. with 15 points. Kapri Doucet had 12.
Kloosterman led the Rams with 14 points and nine rebounds. Smoot added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Strasburg loses eight seniors, and finishes 18-10. Hiserman said the seniors have a lot to be proud of.
"Any time a team wins 18 games in a season, you're starting to get into the upper part in school history in wins," Hiserman said. "That gives the younger guys in our program something to strive for."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org