Rams stifle delayed Cougars

STRASBURG — Manassas Park’s girls basketball team broke its sideline huddles Wednesday night with the cry of “Defense,” but it was Strasburg that put the fundamental into practice.

The Rams ran out to a 32-3 lead early in the second half, then coasted to a 41-11 victory in Bull Run District play.

The victory was the sixth for the home team in its last seven games and improved its record to 12-6 overall, 7-5 in the league. Manassas Park (0-16, 0-12) is the ninth and last-place member of the district. The Rams remained behind Warren County (9-8, 8-5 as of Wednesday) in fifth place in the league.

“Considering everything, I thought we played good man-to-man defense. They would set ball screens and we knew that and did a good job with it,” said Strasburg coach Joel Morgan. His Rams head to George Mason for another Bull Run encounter on Thursday.

Strasburg will get a shortened night of rest as this game did not tip until 9:06 p.m., more than two hours after its regularly scheduled beginning.

That was because the bus in which Manassas Park’s team was traveling was stalled for over an hour on Interstate 66 while an accident was investigated and cleared away. Reportedly, a car hit a deer on the westbound lanes and a truck got involved in the mess.

When the Cougars arrived, Strasburg’s team, officials and the regular referees gave them ample time to warm up. In fact, the Rams’ fans who waited out the 3½-hour ordeal gave the visitors a kind hand at the outset. The game ended about 10:30 p.m.

Strasburg last played Warren County — a loss — a week ago. Since then the Rams had neither practiced nor participated in a game because of school weather delays and a student holiday.

It showed in the way the Rams shot the ball, but their defense was a reminder about what their coaching staff had been focused on. Strasburg forced 25 turnovers from Manassas Park in the first half. That number had increased by 35 by the end. The Rams allowed just three field goals.

The Cougars’ first points came at the 4:20 mark of the first period, and when they scored again it was 22-3 with 2:17 left in the half.

Haley Bischoff scored the Rams’ first field goal of the second half, then Kelsey Jenkins recorded a jumper for the 29-point cushion. Jenkins (11) and Carey Scott (13) were the leading scorers.

Manassas Park actually scored seven unanswered points in the third quarter to make it 32-10, but by that point, both benches were attempting to focus on merely finishing the game.

“Our defense is something we work on all the time and I think this year’s defense is better than last year’s,” said Strasburg senior Emily Melnikoff. “That’s what we strive for.”

Kelsey Jenkins had five steals, while reserves Rachel Harriman and Olivia Gochenour each recorded six rebounds.