Scoring drought proves costly for Rams

STRASBURG — Strasburg got exactly the kind of game it wanted Friday night against Luray. It was a slow-paced, grind-it-out affair. However, a scoring drought in the second half proved costly.

The Bulldogs rallied for a 45-30 girls basketball victory over the Rams in the semifinals of the Ram Tip-Off Tournament.

“I thought our kids competed,” Strasburg coach Joel Morgan said. “I think we played a fairly decent team tonight, and I thought our kids really competed well. We just had a stretch in the second half where we didn’t make any shots. It’s hard to beat a good team with 30 points.”

Things were looking up for the Rams after a Carey Scott 3-pointer gave them their first lead of the night, 26-24, with 2:41 left in the third quarter. The Bulldogs scored the next 15 points during a stretch that lasted midway into the fourth quarter.

Luary’s Michaela Nichols hit a jumper to tie the game. Nichols converted an old-fashioned three-point play and two free throws by Elise Beahm gave the Bulldogs a 31-26 edge after three quarters.

“We got our composure back there in the second half,” Luray coach Chris Ponn said. “We started making some shots and doing the things that we were capable of doing.”

The run continued into the fourth quarter. Luray made eight consecutive free throws to start the final period, including four by Nichols.

Strasburg (1-1) finally broke the seven-minute, 20-second scoring drought on a putback by Scott with 3:21 left in the game.

“Things looked good right there [in the third quarter],” Morgan said. “We were doing some good things, but could not put the ball in the basket.”

Two free throws by Jordan Dudley and a basket by Nichols extended the lead to 43-28 with 2:10 left and put the game away.

Luray (2-0) took an early six-point lead, but the Rams battled back. Both teams struggled from the field in the first half. Luray shot 22.6 percent (7-for-31), which helped keep the Rams close.

“I’ve got to hand it to coach Morgan, their girls they came out and played hard. I have to give it to them,” Ponn said. “We were a little shaky in the first half. We had open looks — we just didn’t knock them down.”

Strasburg’s Kelsey Jenkins hit a jumper and scored on a driving layup to help tie the game at 16-16 with 3:18 left in the first half. Luray’s Brooke Dinges scored inside to give the Bulldogs the lead, but two free throws by Scott tied the game at 18 at the half.

Luray’s Katelyn Keyser and Dudley each hit a 3-pointer early in the third quarter, but Scott hit two 3-ponters and Kerigan Jenkins scored inside to help put the Rams in front.

Nichols led the Bulldogs with 15 points. Luray will play Shenandoah District rival Buffalo Gap, a 69-28 winner over East Hardy in Friday’s other semifinal, in Saturday’s championship game at 7:30 p.m.

Strasburg will play East Hardy in the consolation game Saturday at 6 pm. Scott had 10 points to lead the Rams. Kelsey Jenkins had seven points, and Kerigan Jenkins had five points and 10 rebounds.

Morgan said Kerigan Jenkins was a real positive for the Rams in the loss.

“Kerigan Jenkins went out there tonight inside and did some really, really nice things,” Morgan said. “If she continues to improve, I think we’ll be able to have some expectations of getting more from her each night.”

It’s still early in the season, but Morgan said he feels the team has potential to be successful this season.

“I think I feel like we have potential to get better,” Morgan said. “I don’t know how good we can be but I think we have potential, looking at our schedule, to be competitive and have a chance to be competitive and win a fair many games. That’s going to mean we are going to have to get better on the offensive end. We are going to have to score a little bit better.

“Most importantly our kids compete, and I do think that most importantly that’s what we did tonight.”

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