Rams turn to defense
STRASBURG — As it has much of the season, Strasburg turned to its defense on Friday night with the game hanging in the balance.
The Rams held Clarke County scoreless for more than six minutes in the fourth period en route to a 50-39 Bull Run District victory.
“Coming out in the fourth we wanted to execute on both ends of the court, and we felt like we did that,” Strasburg senior Ryan Smoot said. “Holding them scoreless for six minutes with the scorers that they’ve got is pretty good. Tied up in the fourth, big game like that, and we just know that we’ve got to buckle down and get stops and we were able to do that. When we got stops, we boxed out and finished the possession.”
The game was tied at 33-33 heading into the fourth period. Clarke County’s Brett McDonald scored to give the Eagles a 35-33 lead with 7:42 left in the game.
The Rams’ defense, which was solid all night, took over as they would go on a 16-0 run over the next 6:02 of the contest.
Strasburg’s Tyler Fincham got things started for the Rams with a 3-pointer to give them the lead for good.
Strasburg senior Noah St. Clair made three free throws and Tyler Brill scored inside to extend the lead. Fincham then took a pass from Smoot and converted a conventional three-point play to push the lead to 44-35 with 5:12 left.
“We weren’t really pulling away, so I just tried to make something happen and just shoot the ball and try to get us up,” Fincham said.
A Smoot basket and a 3-pointer by Brill capped off the run. Clarke County went 0-for-5 during the stretch and had three turnovers.
The Eagles held a 10-9 edge after the first period, aided by Strasburg shooting 10 percent (1-for-10) from the floor. The Rams were able to overcome some foul trouble in the second period, and rallied for a 23-21 lead at the half.
Strasburg (17-5) was able to build a four-point lead in the third, but a technical foul against the Rams helped the Eagles tie the game up at 33-33.
The Rams held Clarke county senior Sean McDonald to just 13 points, including none in the fourth. St. Clair had the defensive assignment for most of the night, but when he got in foul trouble in the first half Cody Price filled the void.
“Noah St. Clair did a really, really good job, obviously on Sean again,” Strasburg coach Matt Hiserman said. “In the first half we got in foul trouble, and Cody Price came off the bench and did a tremendous job on him as well. Sean’s a tough kid to play against. He’s a tough scorer. They run a lot of things through him. I thought we did a good job on him.”
Brett McDonald had 11 points for the Eagles.
Fincham led the Rams with 13 points, while Smoot had nine points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks for a balanced Strasburg offense on Senior Night.
The win helps Strasburg in seeding for the Conference 35 tournament, which starts on Feb. 16. The Rams will host a first-round game. Before conference play starts, the Rams host Warren County on Monday in Bull Run District tournament quarterfinals.
The Rams lost to the Wildcats earlier this week, and are looking forward to playing them again.
“We have a huge one Monday night after what Warren County did to us,” Smoot said. “I don’t think there’s anyone in that locker room that won’t be up for that game.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org