Coach trying to get Rams’ attention after recent loss

Strasburg boys basketball coach Matt Hiserman wanted to get the Rams’ attention in practice last Thursday, and he dug into the past to do it.

“We had felt like we had lost a little bit of where we were edge-wise, so [Thursday] in practice we went back to some old stuff,” Hiserman said on Friday. “We took their practice stuff away from them actually and got out a set of practice uniforms from the 1980s that were purple and gold. So I think we got their attention [Thursday] that some of them need to refocus.”

The head coach’s message came on the heels of Strasburg’s 60-41 loss at Madison County last Wednesday, a defeat that Hiserman said was part of a period of a couple weeks in which he didn’t feel the Rams (13-3) played up to their full potential, particularly on the offensive end.

Against the Mountaineers, Strasburg lost a seven-point halftime lead and was outscored 24-7 in the fourth period.

“It was one of the first situations of the year where we had given up a lead and we didn’t really respond when we tried to stop the run,” said Hiserman, who added that the Rams’ downfall against Madison County was their inability to run an effective half-court offense.

Strasburg’s loss also made an impact on the Conference 35 regular season race. The Rams, who are currently battling with Luray and Page County for second place – and an automatic bid to the Region 2A East tournament – behind conference leader George Mason, are in third place.

“It obviously affected us because we would be in second place right now with a win,” Hiserman said. “And in our conference in boys, you can’t say that you want to play anybody in the first round [of the conference tournament].”

Conference 35, which is composed of schools from the Bull Run and Shenandoah districts, determines its tournament seedings using a power points system. A team’s power rating is determined by its record in district games against 2A and 3A competition.

Strasburg has six games remaining – all against Bull Run competition – including two games against longtime rival Clarke County and a home game against George Mason, both of which are also Conference 35 members.

“Finishing the year with the record we have right now is going to be a tough feat trying to play those couple teams. You could quickly go from being the two or three seed in the conference with those games left to being the five seed,” Hiserman said.

IN A LULL: Skyline’s boys basketball team has been successful on the court of late, winning five of its last six games to improve to 9-7 overall following Thursday’s win at Clarke County. But despite that success, head coach Jacob Bates feels his team has hit a bit of a “lull.”

The Hawks, who won only one game last season in Bates’ second year at the helm, lost its first four games this season before winning nine of their last 12. Skyline hasn’t lost consecutive games since Dec. 12, and recently experienced a four-game winning streak before it was snapped by a loss to Handley last Tuesday. Bates said the Hawks are now caught in a position where they are trying to figure out how to “handle winning.”

“We’ve hit that lull there the last week and a half, two weeks. And we’ve talked about it and they seem aware of it but getting that to change is a different story,” Bates said Friday. “The mind has to overcome the body and I think that’s where we’re at right now.”

Bates said in an effort to help the Hawks break out of that recent trend he has started to pick and choose when to do high intensity drills in practice.

“The biggest thing as a coach that we can really do is have fun with it, enjoy being around them, let them enjoy being around one another and I think if I do more of that as a coach, I think they’ll feed off of that,” he added.

Skyline, a member of Conference 28 alongside Central and Warren County, is 2-1 in conference games that count toward tournament seeding (if fellow Conference 28 schools play each other twice, only the second game factors into tournament seeding). John Champe, which beat the Hawks 70-38 back on Dec. 5, is  3-0 in the conference, while Loudoun Valley is 4-1 and beat Skyline twice in the Hawks’ first three games this winter.

The Hawks have six games remaining in the regular season, including three – home games against Warren County and Rock Ridge and a road game at John Champe in the regular season finale – that will count toward their Conference 28 seeding.

“If we win all three of those and John Champe beats Loudoun Valley then, to my understanding, we would win the conference during the regular season,” Bates said.

IN THE THICK OF IT: Sherando’s boys basketball team is in the thick of its own race in Conference 21, as the Warriors trail leader Millbrook by 1 1/2 games following the Pioneers’ win over James Wood on Friday.

Sherando lost at home to Millbrook, 68-63, last Tuesday but the result doesn’t count toward conference tournament seeding as Conference 21 uses a system similar to Conference 28. The two Northwestern District rivals meet again on Feb. 3.

The Warriors are 11-3 this season. The major factor has been a balanced scoring effort. Sherando is averaging 60.6 points per game and as a team is shooting 49 percent from the floor.

The senior trio of forward Kyle Tusing and guards Trey Brisco and Jordan Henry has been the catalyst for Sherando’s offense this winter. Brisco and Tusing lead the Warriors in scoring, as each is averaging 12.2 points per game. Henry is averaging 11.6 points per contest. Sherando is the only local team to have three players averaging over 10 points per game.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or

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