Rams win defensive struggle over Generals

STRASBURG — Strasburg and Stonewall Jackson’s girls basketball teams mirror each other in a lot of ways. They both play tough, hard-nosed man-to-man defense, and they both have been struggling on the offensive end.

Both teams showed off their defense in a match-up Saturday night. The Rams were able to hit a few big baskets in the fourth period to help pull out a 30-24 victory over the Generals in non-district action.

“They’re fun games to play,” Strasburg coach Joel Morgan said of the Shenandoah County rivalry. “I’ve been coaching against [Stonewall Jackson coach Jeff Burner] for a long time. Both of us kind of know how the other one’s going to play. I thought we were just able to make maybe a few more plays. They had some opportunities, and had some good looks at shots and couldn’t get them knocked down.”

The Rams led by eight with 3:47 left in the third period after a basket by Carey Scott. The Generals went on a 6-0 run, including four points from Cheyanne Green, to cut the lead to 18-16 with 2:46 left in the third.

Strasburg’s Haley Bischoff scored off a nice assists from Emily Melnikoff to a 20-16 lead into the fourth period.

Strasburg guards Scott and Kesley Jenkins then gave the Rams some life on offense. The pair combined for seven points during a 7-4 run to extend the lead to 27-20 with 4:32 left in the game.

“It just seems like we tend to have a little stretch each game in the third quarter where it just seems like we don’t move our feet very well,” Morgan said. “I thought [late in the third] we were fortunate that we held onto the lead. Then I thought we came out and righted ourselves and started making a few plays ourselves on the offensive end.”

One of those plays was a 3-pointer by Scott, one of only two in the game for the Rams, which gave Strasburg a seven-point cushion.

“I believe in my shot a lot,” Scott said of her 3-pointer. “They passed me the ball and I believe in it. So, I just shot it for my team.”

The Generals (2-8, 1-4 Shenandoah) rallied once more. Stonewall Jackson’s Jayme Kokkonen hit a pair of free throws and a basket by Green inside helped cut the lead to 28-24 with 1:52 left.

Stonewall Jackson used the full-court press, but Scott was able to break it and find a wide-open Kerigan Jenkins for a layup and a 30-24 lead with 1:23 left.

“I thought there late in the fourth quarter our kids got a little panicky,” Morgan said. “I tried to get a couple timeouts there to calm us down. I thought the play Carey Scott made on the press-breaker and hit Kerigan [Jenkins] for a layup was a big play right there. It kind of stabilized us a little bit there at the end.”

Neither team could score after that, but Stonewall Jackson had plenty of chances. The Generals missed their last seven chances, some of which were layups.

“I thought we played really, really hard,” Burner said. “We executed a lot of the things we wanted to do. We just can’t shoot right now. I don’t know what the deal is. We don’t make shots. We’re executing. We’re getting good looks. We’ve got to shoot shots with confidence and make them.”

Green led the Generals with seven points. Emily Jordan had five steals.

“I thought we had great effort from a lot of kids,” Burner said. “We’ve been playing a lot of kids [all year]. I think all of them are playing hard. We’re just trying to find somebody that will make a shot or two.”

Scott led the Rams (10-5, 5-4 Bull Run) with 11 points, six rebounds two assists and two steals, while Kelsey Jenkins had nine points and two steals. Bischoff had four points and six rebounds for Strasburg.

It was the fourth-straight win for the Rams, who host Madison County on Tuesday.

“Looking at our schedule we had a couple games that you’d like to win. Some of them are going to be tough, but they’re games that I felt like we could win,” Morgan said. “I think we’ve done a lot of that. That’s how we’ve been able to get ourselves to the point where we are 10-5.

“That’s all you can do is just play the schedule we have, and I think our kids have been up to the challenge every night. We’ve played well enough on defense to give ourselves a chance, if we make enough plays, to win on offense.”

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