By Jim Laise - firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- When you bottle up the opponents' one-two scoring punch, perhaps an upset is in order.
It was not to be, however, as Clarke County's girls basketball team whipped Strasburg on Thursday night, 42-18, behind a suffocating defense.
It was the second straight victory for the Bull Run District's second-place Eagles over a Joel Morgan-coached Rams' squad this season. Clarke downed Strasburg 53-44 at home on Jan. 18.
The Rams dropped to 11-9 overall, 6-8 in the league, while Clarke improved to 15-2, 19-2. The Eagles are now tied with George Mason for first place.
"I thought for the most part we played good half-court defense. Against our half-court, they couldn't do much. It was the steals and stuff they turned into home-run plays in the first half that hurt us," Morgan said.
Indeed, Clarke's combo of Anna Blue Catlett and Sydney Chrane were "held"to a combined 18 points, but the two Clarke County juniors took 30 shots to get them.
Meanwhile, the pressing Clarke defense chewed up the Strasburg ball-handling efforts in the first half, then allowed just seven second-half points to earn the victory.
The hosts -- playing on Senior Night -- were as close as 14-10 with 3:31 remaining in the first quarter, but the Eagles put on a 15-1 run into the second quarter and led 29-11 with 52.6 seconds showing in the half.
"We had some people who were a little soft on offense. It was on offense that we had trouble with them," Morgan said.
Strasburg turned the ball over 11 times in the first half, compared to six turnovers for Clarke. It finished with 18 miscues for the game against 11 turnovers for the winners.
Strasburg scored five-straight points to end the half trailing 29-16, but that was the closest they would come.
Chrane and Catlett, the Eagles' leading scorers and among the better point producers in school history, each tallied 14 points. No one else on the floor had more than six.
Strasburg has two more regular season games until the Bull Run District tournament, which starts Monday.