Third-quarter surge lifts Rams over Stonewall

Strasburg's Mekhi Hendricks gets rejected by Stonewall Jackson's Ryan Smith while Brett Jones, right, looks on during second quarter boys basketball action Monday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily
Stonewall Jackson's Nathan Miller brings the ball down the floor as Strasburg's Tyler Fincham defends during a Jan. 19 boys basketball game in Strasburg. Both teams are set to play in the Conference 35 tournament, which was scheduled to start tonight but could be pushed back due to inclement weather. Rich Cooley/Daily file
Strasburg's Trevin Howard drives through the lane as Stonewall Jackson's Kaelan Sorrells defends during Monday's game. Rich Cooley/Daily
Strasburg's Ryan Smoot passes the ball off while Stonewall Jackson's Nathan Miller defends during second quarter boys basketball action Monday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily
Strasburg's Tyler Brill drills a 3-point shot while Stonewall Jackson's Ryan Smith gets a hand in his face during second quarter boys basketball action Monday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily
Strasburg's Mark Smoot gets a high-five from Rams coach Matt Hiserman after drilling a 3-point shot to end the third quarter during Monday night boys high school basketball against Stonewall Jackson. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG — Strasburg’s players got the message.

With Strasburg leading by three points early in the third quarter, Rams coach Matt Hiserman called a timeout and his team promptly responded. The Rams went on a huge run to pull away with a 58-36 boys basketball victory over Stonewall Jackson on Monday night.

“Right there when they came out and scored at the start of the second half, and we didn’t have guys in the right spots after we just talked about it, we decided we needed to use one [timeout] and get our guys’ attention real quick,” Hiserman said. “I think we got their attention, and they realized that ‘hey, we better step it up.’ Every game is a big game. Even though it’s not a district game, it’s a county game. It could affect conference standings and tiebreaker scenarios, so you better step it up real quick.”

The Rams led 26-23 with 6:38 left in the third quarter, when Strasburg began a 21-3 spurt. Strasburg senior guard Mark Smoot played a big role in the run, knocking down three 3-pointers.

Smoot had three 3-pointers in a win over Rappahannock County on Saturday night as well.

“I guess I’m in that zone right now. I hit three on Saturday, tonight I hit three. Hopefully, it will carry over,” Smoot said. “I was just feeling it out there. Sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn’t. That third quarter I was feeling it, and I don’t know what it was about tonight. It was just going in tonight.”

The Rams looked like they were going to pull away early in the game. Strasburg’s Tyler Brill hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter, and the Rams took advantage of nine first-quarter turnovers for the Generals to build an 18-11 lead.

Strasburg (13-2) extended the lead to 26-15 on a driving layup by Trevin Howard with 4:21 left in the first half. The Generals responded with a 7-0 run to end the half.

Stonewall Jackson (0-11) trailed 26-22 at the half, despite 15 first-half turnovers.

“We fought back. We played well in the second quarter,” Stonewall Jackson coach Patrick Smoot said. “You see glimpses. The kids were fired up. They were excited. We come out at halftime, third quarter, and do some things decent, and then we just let it slip. We just can’t stay focused. It’s just a young, immature basketball team that can’t stay focused for whatever reason.”

Hiserman said that he was not happy that the Rams only had 26 points at the half, considering the Generals had turned the ball over 15 times. Hiserman said he experimented with their full court man-to-man defense in the first half, trapping a lot, which led to some of the turnovers. In the second half he decided to go back to their normal man-to-man defense.

“Once we got some turnovers and some easy looks, then we forgot about how to play defense in the half court at the other end,” Hiserman said. “So when they did break it we weren’t talking, scrambling, and getting to where we were supposed to be. We were letting them penetrate and do what they wanted.”

Ryan Smoot started Strasburg’s big run with a driving layup, but Stonewall Jackson’s Nathan Miller answered with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 28-26 with 5:33 left in the third quarter. It would be the last basket for the Generals for eight minutes and 30 seconds.

Ryan Smoot, Brill and Howard each scored inside and that opened things up for Mark Smoot’s 3-point barrage and 11 consecutive points.

“I thought Mark Smoot gave us a huge spark in the second half,” Hiserman said. “He’s starting to get where he can come in and help us, and he can do what he did out there tonight — he can step up and shoot it.”

Ryan Smith and Kory Somers each had eight points to lead the Generals. Patrick Smoot said he was happy with how hard his team played.

“They fought. They hustle,” Patrick Smoot said. “They get after people, we just have to put that in the right area. We have to put that hustle towards a loose ball that they’re turning over instead of chasing our turnovers. We have to turn that hustle into positive instead of a negative.”

Brill led the Rams with 14 points, while Mark Smoot and Fincham had 11 each.

Strasburg has five more games over the next two weeks, starting with a big road game at Madison County on Wednesday night.

“Last time Madison came in here we handled them pretty good,” Mark Smoot said. “We know they will be a lot better, that was early in the season. We got to go down there, it’s a long trip. It’s going to be a tough one.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or

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