Defense, free throws help Strasburg top Warren in OT

STRASBURG – Strasburg used its defense to keep it in the game on Wednesday night against Warren County. With the game close, the Rams used clutch free-throw shooting and a solid rebounding effort to pull out the win.

The Rams hit six free throws in overtime to pull out a 41-34 girls basketball victory over the Wildcats.

“We were able to hit (free throws). We’ve been struggling with free throws all year, and tonight we hit them at the right time,” Strasburg coach Darin Jenkins said.

Strasburg seniors Kelsey Jenkins and Carey Scott combined to go 6-for-6 from the line in overtime to help seal the win.

Strasburg’s Olivia Gochenour hit a 3-pointer to start the overtime, but Warren County’s Sam Schroyer responded with one of her own to the game at 31 less than a minute into overtime.

The Wildcats took the lead on a basket by Arianna Smoot, but Strasburg’s Daniella Henry scored inside the paint to tie the game again with 2:24 left in overtime.

The Rams (6-8, 3-3 Bull Run) took the lead for good on a putback by Henry with 1:41 left. Henry finished with 12 points.

“Daniella was big for us tonight,” Darin Jenkins said. “She came in off the bench. Daniella’s been working hard in practice. I was waiting for that to translate over into a game and it started to tonight. There’s no doubt about it – Daniella can play at this level. We just need to try to get Daniella more consistent every night.”

Smoot cut the lead to 35-34 with a free throw with 33 seconds left, and the Rams sealed the win at the line. Kelsey Jenkins made four consecutive free throws to extend the lead to 39-34, and Scott made two in the final seconds.

“I was talking to myself the whole time at the line. I was saying ‘just knock it down. It’s going to go in. It’s going to go in,'” Kelsey Jenkins said of her overtime free throws. “I had confidence, and I trusted in my shot and it did go in.”

The Rams started the game off slowly. They turned the ball over 10 times in the first period. Warren County had an early 8-2 edge, but the Rams battled back and only trailed 8-7 after one period.

Strasburg took the lead early in the second period on two free throws from Scott and a basket by Haley Bischoff for an 11-8 lead.

Both teams struggled the rest of the period and the game was tied at 13-13 at the half.

Smoot hit back-to-back shots early in the third period and helped give the Wildcats a 22-19 lead with 2:05 left in the third. The Rams answered with four combined free throws from Scott and Kelsey Jenkins.

“I think their press gave us some trouble. We were turning it over a lot,” Kelsey Jenkins said. “I think at halftime we just came in there and calmed down, and we came out and had a strong third quarter and that’s what helped us.”

Kelsey Jenkins scored on back-to-back baskets to start the fourth period as the Rams built a 27-22 lead. The Wildcats scored the next six points to take a 28-27 lead with 2:20 left.

Kelsey Jenkins tied the game with a free throw with 36 seconds left. The Rams had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but Henry’s putback went in and back out as time ran out.

“I was drinking a cup of water at the time and I about choked on it, because I was ready to celebrate and then it popped back out,” Darin Jenkins said. “The girls came over at the end of regulation and I thought they were putting their heads down. I was like ‘pick your heads up, the game’s not over with,’ and they looked at me and said ‘we’re just tired.’ It was great composure for them. They all fought hard.”

Strasburg also hung even with Warren County on the boards, 34-34, despite giving up a size advantage.

Smoot had 14 points, and Schroyer had 10 for the Wildcats (6-8, 2-4 Bull Run).

“Free throws hurt us tonight. We didn’t make them and they did,” Warren County coach John Kelly said. “… He did a great job of having everybody box out because size-wise we we’re actually taller than them except for the one girl and we didn’t box out.”

Kelsey Jenkins led the Rams with 15 points.

“This is a big win for our program, hopefully it gets us on track to finish out the year,” Darin Jenkins said. “We got a big one coming up Friday night with Central. We’re looking forward to the opportunity against them. We’re going to need the same type of effort. It’s a team effort, it’s a team win.”

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