Bench sparks Rams against Wildcats

Strasburg's Noah St. Clair drives to the basket while Warren County's D'Andre Lawrence defends during first half action Thursday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily
Strasburg's Adam Miller pulls down a rebound while surrounded by Warren County's Cameron Ford, left, and Patrick Cockrell, right, during first half boys basketball action Thursday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily
Warren County's D'Andre Lawrence shoots over Strasburg's Tyler Brill during first half boys basketball action Thursday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily
Strasburg's Mekhi Hendricks gives Warren County's Clyde Ritchie a head fake while driving to the basket during first half boys basketball action Thursday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Pretty much everything was working for Strasburg on Thursday night.

The Rams took control early, and used a strong effort from their bench to pull out a 75-33 victory over Warren County.

“I think this is the first night we’ve played good basketball,” Strasburg senior Ryan Smoot said. “It wasn’t perfect and there were good things in the other games, but tonight was our best effort, which you hope as you go on you want to play your best basketball game the next game. So far we’ve gotten better, but this is the first time that we can say that we’ve played a good game.”

The Rams scored the first 14 points of the game. Tyler Brill played a big part in the start with two steals and a 3-pointer in the first two minutes of the game to give Strasburg a quick 7-0 lead.

Strasburg senior Mark Smoot drained a 3-pointer after coming off the bench, and Noah St. Clair came off the bench and hit a free throw during the 14-0 run.

The Rams (3-0, 2-0 Bull Run) had eight different players score in the opening quarter, which had Strasburg ahead 19-4. Four of the eight players came off the bench.

“All 12 of us can play solid minutes. We can all do things. We can all score,” Ryan Smoot said. “We’ve got to start five, but whoever has the hot hand we’re going to go with. We expect to have good bench play about every night.”

The bench contributed 29 points for the Rams and it was spread around to six different players.

“Our depth, I think we’re maybe one of those teams that maybe we can wear some people down that maybe don’t have depth,” Strasburg coach Matt Hiserman said. “We can cause them to get in some mental lapses.”

The combination of starters Brill and Tyler Fincham also played a key role in Strasburg’s fast start. They combined for five 3-pointers in the contest.

“They gave us a spark we’ve been missing from the perimeter, and both those kids can really shoot it,” Hiserman said of the pair. “Those two kids, when they start knocking down shots from the perimeter they can really stretch the defense, and you got a kid like [point guard] Mekhi [Hendricks] who can penetrate and find guys.”

Things didn’t get any better for the Wildcats, who went 1-for-18 from 3-point range and only 10-for-20 from the free-throw line.

“The bottom line is we’re not a very good basketball team right now,” Warren County coach Vernon Mathews said. “We’re struggling in every facet of the game. Our defense was poor, and the offense wouldn’t settle down and run any sets.”

Warren County (0-5) was led by D’andre Lawrence, who had 13 points. Mathews said the team has a lot of improving to do.

“We need to improve in very facet of the game,” Mathews said. “We seem to take a little step forward and then two steps back.”

Ryan Smoot had 13 points, five rebounds and two assists, and Fincham had 12 points. Hendricks had 11 points and two assists, and Brill had 10 points and two steals for Strasburg. Jordan Stump added four points and five rebounds for the Rams.

Strasburg will host Madison County on Saturday in an early-season district battle.

“We’re going to have to play a good basketball game if we want to have a chance,” Ryan Smoot said. “They’re a really good basketball team. They’ve got some good guards. They’ve got some big guys. We’re going to have to play well.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or

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