By Tommy Keeler Jr.
Strasburg will have a chance to do something it hasn't done since the 1999-2000 season when the Rams play at East Rockingham tonight -- win a regional game.
The Rams will play the Eagles in the first round of the 2A East regionals at 7:30 p.m.
"We told them there's a lot of things they can do that teams haven't done in a while, like clinching the automatic regional berth. They did that," Strasburg coach Matt Hiserman said. " Getting a win in the regional will be the first for the program since 99-00, some things those kids can hang their hat on."
It will be the first time this season that the Rams have played a playoff game against someone they haven't faced before. They've played Bull Run District opponents so far in the postseason.
"I like playing some teams that don't know us that well, we don't know them that well -- I like the thought of that," Strasburg senior guard Tyler Doman said. "Just whoever plays better that night's going to win. It will be a pretty good game. It will be fun."
The Eagles play in the Shenandoah District, and mostly use an extended 2-3 zone. Hiserman said the Eagles like to push the ball up the floor quickly and try to speed teams up.
"Our league is more of a man-to-man [defensive] league, not a lot of scoring type league," Hiserman said. "Their league is more of a zone league, and they don't mind scoring 60, 70, 80 points a game. So, it's going to be interesting, because it is two different types of styles in some aspects."
The Eagles (11-14) are led by forward Logan Lam, who was a first team All-Shenandoah District selection. Hiserman said the Eagles have two 6-foot-5 players who like to get the rebound and throw the ball down the floor quickly to their guards.
Hiserman said Strasburg's guards need to be able to shoot the ball well from the perimeter and they need to be aggressive against the zone.
"We've got to be able to attack them and score, and not be passive against the extended zone," Hiserman said. "We can't sit back and if they give us a chance to score we need to attack it and try and score. Sometimes we get too passive in situations like that. We can't let that happen."
Strasburg (17-9) has lost two of its last three games, including a 40-37 loss to Clarke County in last week's Conference 35 tournament semifinals.
One of the big problems for the Rams has been on offense. Strasburg hasn't scored 50 points in its last five games.
"We've got to get back on track offensively, that's been where we kind of backed off a little bit as of late," Hiserman said. "We've had a few guys that haven't been knocking down shots on the perimeter, that I think will start back up."
One thing that hasn't been a problem most of the season for the Rams has been their defense. Strasburg has only allowed 50 or more points in three of its last 18 games. Hiserman said he's proud of the way his players have kept playing defense even when the offense has struggled.
"Those guys are able to understand that even when we're not scoring, we've got to lock down defensively and stay in that mode, and we've been able to do that," Hiserman said. "A lot of times with kids it's frustrating when they're not scoring, and they get out of wanting to play defense and work hard. I think our guys have continued to work hard, and stay in it on the defensive end, which has kept us in a lot of games."
Strasburg has been led on offense all season by junior Ryan Smoot (12.4 points per game), Doman (11.5 ppg.) and senior Jonathan Kloosterman (10.9 ppg.).
Strasburg has eight seniors, and the Rams would like to see the season continue and get that first regional win since 2000.
"Right now, it's however good we play, we keep on going," Kloosterman said. "So all the seniors, we just want to make sure this isn't our last game."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org