STRASBURG — Strasburg has a real weapon at its disposal this postseason — junior forward Tyler Brill.
The 5-foot-11 Brill has continually improved as the season has went on and his 3-point shot gives the Rams a real advantage that most teams don’t have.
“Somebody’s post guy has got to come out and guard him,” Strasburg coach Matt Hiserman said of Brill. “And a lot of post guys don’t like to come out and guard out that deep, and when they don’t, he’s got the green light to shoot it.”
Brill played on varsity last year, but didn’t see a lot of floor time. During the fall, he decided to focus on basketball instead of playing football. He said he’s since regretted the decision, but it did help his basketball game.
One of the biggest things for Brill has been knowing that even if his shot is off, he has to have a shooter’s mentality.
“If it’s not going down I know that sooner or later they’re going to fall and just keep shooting,” Brill said. “I really have to have confidence in my shot.”
Brill leads the area in 3-point shooting at 43 percent (49-for-114), and Hiserman said one of the keys for Brill has been his confidence level has risen throughout the season.
He’s been solid for the Rams all season, but in the last 10 games Brill is the leading scorer on the team. He’s averaging 12.6 points per game during that stretch, and has scored 15 points five times in those 10 contests. For the season, Brill is second on the team, averaging 10 points per game.
Hiserman said Brill struggled with free throw shooting early in the season, but has improved and that has helped him score more points as well. He is currently shooting 59.6 percent (28-for-47) from the free-throw line.
It also helps that Brill can drive to the basket if needed and get to the free-throw line if teams go out to guard him on the perimeter, and he can also look for his teammates and open things up for them.
“He’s a matchup problem,” Strasburg senior forward Ryan Smoot said. “If teams put their five-man on him, he brings them away from the bucket or if not, he can shoot it. And if they put their four-man on him you can do some different stuff there. Obviously, he’s undersized for his position like we all are here, but his range really helps him out.”
Hiserman said Brill’s just a natural shooter, and they have lots of confidence in him from the outside.
“He’s probably one of the best pure shooters we’ve had in a long time,” Hiserman said. “His catch and release is pretty good. He gets his feet squared and set he’s pretty deadly from wherever.
“When he lifts his elbow up and finishes his shot, we’re pretty confident it’s going in most of the time.”
There’s no question Brill has become a huge part of Strasburg’s success this season, and the Region 2A East first-round victory over Wilson Memorial on Tuesday was a perfect example.
Brill played a huge role on both sides of the ball. He scored 15 points, including hitting a couple big 3-pointers. Brill also helped bring Wilson Memorial’s 7-foot-1 Dean Shaner away from the basket and helped open things up for his teammates.
On defense, he had to go up against Shaner despite being more than a foot shorter. The Rams also provided some help for Brill in the post and they were able to hold Shaner to only six points.
“I knew he was big. I had to push him off the blocks a little bit,” Brill said. “He’s 7-foot-1, obviously, if he’s around the bucket he’s going to score. … It was a challenge. I enjoyed playing against him.”
Hiserman said Brill has improved defensively this year, and it’s helped Brill going up against and learning from Smoot in the post.
The Rams are 21-6, their most wins since 2000. Strasburg will play against either Bruton or Amelia in the Region 2A East quarterfinals on Tuesday.
“I think we’ve been doing really well since the second half of the Central game [on February 4],” Brill said. “After that we’ve been doing really well. That win against Wilson Memorial really boosted our confidence that we can beat good teams and make it pretty far.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or email@example.com