Dragons too much for Wildcats in rout

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County boys basketball coach Vernon Mathews didn’t like much of what he saw from the Wildcats in the first half of Monday’s home game against William Monroe.

Things got better for Mathews in final two quarters, but the 21-point deficit that loomed over the Wildcats at halftime was simply too tall an obstacle to overcome. William Monroe rolled to a 68-46 Bull Run District win, topping Warren County for the second time this season.

“I was disappointed in the first half. I felt like we did not compete. We didn’t box out, we weren’t physical enough and that definitely showed on the scoreboard at the half,” said Mathews, whose team dropped to 4-11 (4-7 in the Bull Run) with Monday’s loss. “The second half, totally different story. We still lost the half but I feel like we were competing and playing about as good as we could play.”

The Wildcats scored the first four points on Monday night, as forwards Robert Rutherford and D’andre Lawrence scored buckets on back-to-back possessions barely a minute into the game. Then the Dragons took over.

William Monroe (12-3, 9-2 Bull Run) scored on four straight possessions as part of a 9-0 run that gave the Dragons a five-point lead, and a 7-0 run later in the frame helped the Dragons take a 12-point lead late in the first quarter. Austin King’s 3-pointer from the wing with 25 seconds left in the period pulled Warren County within 23-14 at the end of the opening quarter.

William Monroe’s 6-foot-4 duo of seniors Jeff Early and O’Brien Morton was particularly troublesome for Warren County’s 2-3 zone on Monday night, as the two combined to score 12 points in the paint for the Dragons in the first eight minutes. Early and Morton finished the night with 18 and 10 points, respectively, and paved the way for an offense that shot better than 50 percent from the floor before giving some bench players some court time late in the second half.

“Everybody plays us a zone. We hardly see any man-to-man. … We’re getting a little bit better at it. We’re getting a little more movement. We’re moving the ball a little quicker, so I was proud of that,” said Dragons head coach Mike Maynard, whose team hit 29 of 63 shots in the win. “We’ve got to learn how to keep attacking that and we’ll see more man-to-man as the season goes.”

The Dragons put the game essentially out of reach in the second period, as they outscored Warren County 15-3 in the frame and took a 38-17 lead into halftime. The Wildcats were 1 for 11 from the field in the second quarter.

“They started pressing us and we didn’t have a bunch of turnovers, but we have a tendency when we get pressed, once we get it across [half court], to jack up the first shot that we can,” Mathews said. “So we weren’t running any offensive sets. We were hurrying our shots, which allowed them to get into transition.

“The last kind of a game we need to get into with a team that is bigger and more athletic than us is an up-tempo game,” he added. “I told them before the game, for us to have a chance it would have to be in the 40s or 50s.”

William Monroe also controlled the boards throughout the night, and Warren County managed to pull down only six rebounds as a team in the first half.

“I was disappointed in our effort and our technique as far as defensively, boxing out,” Mathews said. “The second half was much better.”

The Wildcats kept pace with William Monroe in the second half, as the Dragons outscored Warren County 30-29 over the final two periods.

Warren County shot 32.1 percent (17 for 53) from the field in the loss, including a 3-for-17 mark from beyond the 3-point arc. All three treys belonged to King, who scored nine points in the loss.

Sophomore Cameron Ford, the Wildcats’ leading scorer, was pressured most of the night by William Monroe senior Keegan Woolford and finished with a team-high 10 points.

Anthony Terry had 10 points for William Monroe.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com