Ram Hardwood Classic has new look

Strasburg's Trevin Howard fires a 3-point shot against Stonewall on December 11 in Quicksburg. The Rams will host the Ram Hardwood Classic starting Monday. Rich Cooley/Daily file

STRASBURG – The teams will be the same, but the Ram Hardwood Classic will have a bit of a new look when it starts today.

In the past few years the girls tournament was held at the start of the basketball season, while the boys tourney was held over Christmas break. This year the two tourneys will both be held together over Christmas break.

Strasburg athletic director and boys basketball head coach Matt Hiserman said that he talked it over with girls basketball coach Darin Jenkins and they decided they wanted to combine the tournaments. Jenkins is also the General Manager at Miller Honda, which sponsors the tournament.

“It gives us three good days of basketball,” Jenkins said. “It gives the kids something to do, to come and watch. It gives the community a chance to get out after Christmas, come out and watch some good basketball.”

The tournaments will be held over three days, instead of two days like it has been in the past. The girls tournament gets under way today with Buffalo Gap playing Luray at 6 p.m. Strasburg plays East Hardy at 7:30 p.m.

Strasburg head coach Darin Jenkins watches action on Dec. 10 against Stonewall Jackson. Strasburg will host the Ram Hardwood Classic starting Monday. Rich Cooley/Daily file

On Tuesday, the boys tournament starts with Skyline playing Luray at 6 p.m. and Strasburg playing East Hardy at 7:30 p.m.

There will be four games held on Wednesday. The girls consolation game will kick things off at 3 p.m., followed by the boys consolation game at 4:30 p.m. The girls final will be held at 6 p.m. with the boys final to follow at 7:30 p.m. Hiserman said it will be a rolling schedule, each game will be 20 minutes after the conclusion of the one before it.

“Fans will be able to see their boys and girls teams play together, because not everybody does it like our district does it where the boys and girls are opposite (days),” Hiserman said. “A lot of people are playing on the same nights. You don’t get a chance to see your girls or boys teams play sometimes, so that will be nice.”

The girls tournament will feature some really strong teams. Luray and Buffalo Gap are expected to be two of the top teams in the very tough Shenandoah District. East Hardy returns a lot of players from last year’s team.

“We’re going to be have to be playing well if we want to advance,” Jenkins said.

The Rams have won two of their last four games, and Jenkins said they have been playing better as the season goes on.

The boys tournament should also be very competitive. Hiserman said the Rams will have to play well to have a chance to win the tournament.

He said East Hardy has a lot of players from their football team, which went to the state final this year.

Luray has a solid program year after year, and Skyline is starting to play better. The Hawks, under first-year coach Jeff Monroe, picked up a win last week over Clarke County. Skyline enters the tournament having won two straight games.

“It should be an evenly balanced four-team boys tournament,” Hiserman said.

The Rams, which won the tournament last year, are still finding their way this season. Strasburg lost four games to three solid teams, and Hiserman said they have to keep getting better and find a way to pull out some close wins against good teams.

“We still haven’t found a way to be consistent for four quarters on either end,” Hiserman said. “…We’re still trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. We’ve talked about it. We know it’s there. They believe it’s there, which is a good thing. The kids still believe it’s there. We’ve lost to some good teams, but as I keep telling them we’re going to have to beat good teams if you want to keep playing down the road.”

Jenkins will have a dual role this year. The first-year coach will still be helping run the tournament for Miller Honda, while also coaching in it. He said that Miller Honda enjoys sponsoring the tournament.

“Miller Honda is always gracious enough to cover all the expenses of the tournament. So therefore everything that we raise from the tournament is given back to the four schools that’s in it,” Jenkins said. “It’s a good opportunity for the schools to come and helps raise some money for their programs. We’re looking forward to it.”

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