Central looks to avenge only loss

Central's Tamra Scott converts on a layup while Strasburg's Kelsey Jenkins attempts to defend during second quarter action on Friday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

Central girls basketball coach Bryan Scott is hoping the Falcons are a better team now than when they played George Mason for the first time this season back on Dec. 16.

That evening the Mustangs traveled to Woodstock and handed Central a 52-44 loss, the Falcons’ only defeat in their first 13 games. Central gets a shot at redemption tonight as it travels to George Mason for a 7:30 p.m. rematch and a pivotal showdown between the top two teams in Conference 35.

“We felt like we didn’t play our best game when we first played George Mason. Of course it was early on, it was probably like the fourth, maybe fifth game of the season. I think we’ve gotten a little bit better since then so we’re looking forward to playing this game Tuesday,” Scott said Monday. “I think the girls are really pumped up and ready to play. We’re definitely looking forward to it.”

In their first meeting, Central trailed 44-34 midway through the fourth period before rallying to cut the Mustang’s lead to 3 points with less than two minutes remaining. But the Falcons missed a shot in the paint and a several key free throws down the stretch, while George Mason capitalized at the line to put the game away.

Scott said he revisited film of the teams’ previous meeting on Sunday and counted three missed layups in the closing stages of the game that could’ve made it a one-possession game. Central also was 14 for 32 from the free-throw line.

“I’m hoping we’ve gotten over that hump of missing those easy layups. And of course we didn’t have free throws down the stretch when we needed to,” Scott said. “I went back and counted, I think we were like 5 for 12 (from the line) at one point probably about the last four or five minutes of the game. That kind of hurt us. And then when we did foul them of course they hit theirs, so I think that was a big difference.”

Since the loss in mid-December, Central (12-1, 3-1 Conference 35), which also hosts another conference/district foe in Clarke County on Thursday, has won eight straight games. George Mason is 10-3 overall and 4-0 in conference play.

Central’s boys basketball team also plays George Mason (15-0) and Clarke County this week, as the Falcons host the Mustangs on Wednesday before traveling to Berryville to play Clarke on Friday. The Falcons (8-5, 1-2 Conference 35) were thumped by Mason, 101-54, in their first meeting of the season, but returned two nights later to blast Clarke County 95-52.

In other conference matchups this week, Warren County’s girls basketball team hosts Conference 28 rival William Monroe Tuesday, while the boys travel to take on the Green Dragons on Wednesday. Sherando’s boys and girls hoops teams host Handley in a Conference 21A doubleheader Thursday evening, a day earlier than previously scheduled due to the threat of snow later this week.

Wrestling matchups this week feature plenty of local vs. local action, beginning Tuesday evening when Central hosts Warren County and George Mason in a Bull Run District tri at 6 p.m. Skyline’s wrestling team travels to Sherando on Wednesday before squaring off with cross-town and conference rival Warren County at home on Thursday at 6 p.m.

Though Warren County went unbeaten in the Conference 28 duals two weekends ago, Skyline has come out on the winning end in head-to-head matches against the Wildcats in recent years. The Hawks beat Warren County 35-28 in 2013, 41-24 in 2014 in conference duals and 34-33 in a thriller last season that Skyline coach Matt Keel, at the time, called an upset over the eventual Conference 28 champions. The two teams did not wrestle each other in the conference duals on Jan. 9.

Wildcats coach Matt Wadas said last week it’s a matchup both sides look forward to each season.

“It’s something that’s fun. It’s become a great rivalry,” Wadas said. “We try not to focus too much on it. We don’t build it up because we’ve still got to have conference, regions and states. It’s not the end of our season but it’s definitely fun and no matter if we’re good, they’re good, it’s always close. It’s one of those Pittsburgh-Bengals rivalries that’s come down to the end.”

Sherando’s wrestling team also is scheduled to compete in the two-day Loudoun Valley Invitational Friday and Saturday. On Saturday, Strasburg will compete in a wrestling tournament at Clarke County, Central will be in a meet at North Stafford and Skyline will compete in a tournament at Woodgrove.

In swimming, Sherando is scheduled to compete in the Conference 21A meet Saturday in Winchester, while Strasburg and Central are in a meet in Charlottesville on the same day.

In college basketball, Shenandoah University’s men (3-12, 0-6 ODAC) – who are mired in a 10-game losing streak – travel to Washington & Lee Wednesday before returning home against Roanoke on Saturday. The Hornets women (4-11, 1-5 ODAC) host Virginia Wesleyan and Hollins on Wednesday and Saturday, respectively.

JMU’s men’s basketball team hosts Drexel on Thursday and travels to Elon Saturday, while the women travel to Towson and the College of Charleston Friday and Sunday, respectively.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com