Second-half rally helps Rams top rival Falcons
STRASBURG – Strasburg’s boys basketball team finally broke out of its recent funk on Wednesday night against rival Central, but the Rams needed a half to do it.
The Rams, losers of three of their last five games entering Wednesday, finally found life in the second half against the Falcons, turning a 14-point halftime deficit into a 54-41 Bull Run District win.
Strasburg outscored the Falcons 41-14 in the second half and 24-5 in the fourth quarter.
“I guess the first thing is we got some shots that fell. We missed some open shots in the first half but it was a lot more than that. We didn’t do very good in our offense. Defensively it was terrible. We couldn’t do anything right,” Rams senior forward Ryan Smoot said. “I think coming out of the half we kind of settled down a little bit, came out and got a couple easy ones in the second half and defensively we really turned up the intensity.”
Strasburg’s (16-5, 10-5 Bull Run) second-half comeback began in the third period with Smoot. After sitting out much of the first half with foul trouble, Smoot returned to the court in the third period and promptly scored five unanswered points — his first points of the game — to cut Central’s lead to 27-18.
Smoot’s success in the paint gave the Rams’ offense a much-needed jolt after Strasburg mustered only 13 points in the first half. The senior scored nine points as part of a 17-6 run in the third period that ended when Tyler Brill’s 3 pulled Strasburg within 33-30 with 2:20 left in the frame.
“I was rested. Maybe the other guys weren’t,” Smoot said with a laugh. “Obviously you let your team down a little bit when you’re not out there in the first half. I wanted to come out somehow and try to give us some energy, whether that was scoring the ball, playing defense, something.”
Central freshman Bryan Davis converted a traditional three-point play late in the third quarter to give the Falcons (9-12, 6-9) a 36-30 lead going into the fourth, but the Rams kept the momentum going.
Strasburg used a 9-2 run to take its first lead of the game with 5:05 to play. The Falcons answered with a driving layup by Austin Fadely to reclaim a 40-39 lead with 4:25 left, but sophomore Tyler Fincham gave the Rams the lead right back with a 3 from the wing on Strasburg’s next possession.
“We had a big boost from the third quarter, so we were going into the fourth quarter with a lot of confidence,” said Fincham, who led all scorers with 17 points. “Coach told me to shoot it. He told me I was a shooter, so I got it. They left me open, so I shot it and heated up. Then we just kept on going. We weren’t playing scared.”
Strasburg closed the game on a 15-1 run over the final four minutes as Fincham, Smoot and Brill took turns scoring points during the run.
Smoot and Brill each finished with 15 points for the Rams, with Smoot also adding eight rebounds. Strasburg shot 58 percent from the field in the second half after making only 18 percent of their shots in the first two quarters.
“Offensively we were really stagnant [in the first half]. We wouldn’t throw the ball into the post or we wouldn’t stay in the post. We had guys flashing out of there and hiding on us,” said Rams coach Matt Hiserman, whose team missed 13 of 14 3-point attempts in the first half. “So we went back in the second half and adjusted what we were doing and basically made it where they had to stay in there. They couldn’t come out of there.”
Strasburg switched to a full-court man press in the second half, which helped the Rams generate 14 turnovers over the final two quarters and get some easy buckets in transition. Central, which saw its leading scorer, Fadely (11 points), foul out with 3½ minutes left, shot 35 percent in the second half after making 59 percent of their shots in the first half.
“Points off turnovers sure isn’t a pretty stat in that half for us,” Falcons coach Brandon Shields said. “When we turn it over we don’t get shots off, and that was maybe the biggest thing for us. We took care of the ball, we were very patient in the first half. We got what we wanted. We got open looks. But we shoot zero percent from the floor when we turn it over.”
Joey McConkey and Kobi Hoover each finished with nine points for Central.
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com