Sluggish first half proves costly for Rams

Strasburg's Trevin Howard dishes off a pass inside the lane as William Monroe's Kam'ron McCain looks on during first quarter action on Thursday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG — Strasburg struggled on both sides of the ball in the first half Thursday and it cost them.

The Rams rallied in the second half, but still came up short in a 52-47 loss to William Monroe in Bull Run District boys basketball action.

“We didn’t play in the first half, and when you don’t play in the first half offensively or defensively against a team like William Monroe you’re going to get beat,” Strasburg coach Matt Hiserman said. “We don’t have enough guys in our locker room bought into our team, and when you don’t come out ready to play you’re going to get beat when you play good teams.”

The Rams trailed 33-22 at the half, after scoring only seven points in a dismal second period. The Dragons closed the second period with an 18-2 run.

Strasburg came out with more defensive intensity in the third period and were able to create some turnovers and convert into easy baskets. The Rams went on an 11-2 run to cut the lead to 35-33 with 4:32 left in the third.

Strasburg's Tyler Fincham soars in the lane as William Monroe's Kam'ron McCain trails behind during second quarter action on Thursday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

Strasburg point guard Mekhi Hendricks and Tyler Fincham combined for nine of the points.

“They tried to take Mekhi out of it and got in his head there in the first half,” Hiserman said. “We put the ball in his hands a little more in the second half to try and get him in rhythm and get him to do some things. It helped but we can’t wait to the second half to start playing.”

The two teams went back and forth with the Dragons holding a 39-35 edge after three periods. The Rams took a 40-39 lead with 7:04 left, their first lead since early in the second period. Hendricks had a steal and a layup, and Tyler Brill drilled a 3-pointer to give the Rams the edge.

The Dragons (6-0, 2-0 Bull Run) responded and led the rest of the way. Nick Hayes scored a basket inside the paint, and Anthony Terry hit a jumper to give William Monroe a 43-40 lead with 4:11 left in the game.

“We tried to get into more of our sets, and tried to change things up a little bit,” William Monroe coach Brett Maynard said. “Things weren’t working. I just tried to call a couple timeouts to calm the guys down, because they were getting a little rattled there with their defensive pressure. And at times we did (handle it) and at times we would still get rattled. We were composed enough to get it done.”

Strasburg's Jordan Stump looks to make a pass as William Monroe's Kam'ron McCain defends during second quarter action on Thursday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

A steal and a layup by Fincham cut the lead to 43-42, but the Dragons scored the next five points for a 48-43 lead with 51 seconds left.

The Rams (3-3, 1-1 Bull Run) fought back and cut the lead to 48-47 with 30 seconds left on two free throws from Hendricks and a 3-pointer by Fincham.

William Monroe’s David Smith made two free throws with 29 seconds left for a 50-47 lead. Strasburg had a chance to tie the game with 15 seconds left, but Brill missed his 3-point attempt and the Dragons sealed the game with a rebound and a couple free throws by Kam’ron McCain.

The Dragons were able to control the boards throughout the game, which Hiserman said has been a problem for the Rams all season.

“We refuse to box people out, and until we start boxing people out we’re not a total package yet,” Hiserman said. “We’ve been telling then until we get to be a total package, we’re not going to be able to beat teams that are good.”

McCain led the Dragons with 13 points, while Terry added 12.

The Dragons remain undefeated and Maynard said he’s happy with how his team has played in close games this season.

“We’ve had some close ones and we’re responding well, which I’m very thankful for because we don’t have a very experienced team,” Maynard said. “We lost a lot of guys last year. So it’s just a credit to them and the hard work they put in, in summer league. We played a bunch of summer league basketball games and I think that helped a lot.”

Fincham led the Rams with 18 points and Hendricks added 14. Brill also had 11 points for the Rams.

Hiserman said the team has to buy into the team concept if it’s going to be successful this season.

“We got to get better in all facets of the game if were going to beat people that are good,” Hiserman said.

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