Rams, Hawks face off in holiday tourney

Skyline's Brandon Wells shoots over the outstretched arms of Loudoun Valley's Grant Frazier during first half action Dec. 2 in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily file

While many teams in the area take some time off over the holiday break, Strasburg and Skyline’s boys basketball teams will be looking to keep some early-season momentum going.

The Rams and Hawks will play each other tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ram Hardwood Classic at Strasburg. Luray will play East Hardy (West Virginia) in the first game at 6 p.m.

“I love the tournament,” Skyline coach Jacob Bates said. ” I think [Strasburg athletic director and boys basketball coach] Matt Hiserman does a great job with this tournament. It’s a tournament atmosphere, for one. The way he sets it up and there’s an all-tournament team and winners playing winners, not like so many now where it’s round robin. … I really enjoy it. I like playing over the break. If you have 11, 12 days without a game that’s not good.”

The Rams are off to a good start, with a 6-2 record, while the Hawks have won three in a row after losing their first four games of the season.

Strasburg started out 5-0, but had a tough three-game stretch against undefeated George Mason, Moorefield (West Virginia) and William Monroe.

Strasburg's Noah St. Clair goes to the basket under the outstretched arm of Stonewall Jackson's Kory Somers during third quarter action on Dec. 5 in Quicksburg. Rich Cooley/Daily file

The Rams lost to George Mason, which is in first place in the Bull Run District, 60-45 on Dec. 18. The Rams knocked off Moorefield 59-43 on Dec. 20, and then lost 45-36 to a William Monroe squad on Monday that has won the district the last two years. Both losses came on the road.

“We’ve just got to take some time here over the break and get ready for our tournament,” Hiserman said. “And then get ready to get back into district play and try to build on what we’ve done so far.”

The Rams have a young and inexperienced team, but have still had quite a bit of success early on. The Rams have shot the ball well most of the season, and Hiserman said he’s very happy with the way the team has shared the ball.

Strasburg also has a lot of depth, and the Rams have had players come off the bench and give the team a big lift in many of their games.

Skyline won three games last week, including a second-half rally against Central, a road victory over Handley and a win over rival Warren County.

“I think what we feel the best about is we still have not played anywhere near our best basketball, and we were able to escape with some victories last week,” Bates said. “That feels good. What we talked about [after he Warren County win] is we’ve worked hard enough to still be able to win some games not playing our best.”

The tournament should be good for both Strasburg and Skyline against quality competition. Luray is 3-2, while East Hardy has struggled to an 0-4 record.

Hiserman said he set up the tournament so that the two teams that did not play each other last year will play each other in the semifinals.

The tournament is sponsored by Miller Honda, and the consolation game will be Monday at 6 p.m with the championship game scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

“When it comes down to it, there’s going to be a good team that goes 0-2,” Strasburg senior Ryan Smoot said. “There’s actually going to be a good team that goes 2-0 and picks up two really good wins.”

The Rams played the Hawks in a scrimmage before the season started, and the Rams won rather easily. Both teams know the scrimmage means nothing now.

“They took it us,” Skyline senior Brandon Walters said. “They outran us. They shot us out of the gym. It was embarrassing.”

“We scrimmaged them at the beginning of the season and worked on them pretty good for six quarters,” Smoot said. “So we know as much as it’s just a scrimmage, they’ll want a little revenge. And they’re playing good basketball right now.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com