Jenkins scores 29 as Rams shut down Yellow Jackets

STRASBURG – There was a stretch in Monday’s girls basketball game against visiting Moorefield (West Virginia) during which Strasburg senior Kelsey Jenkins seemingly couldn’t miss.

Jenkins scored her team’s first 14 points of the second period en route to a career-high 29 points, and the Rams’ defense shut down Moorefield’s offense in the second half as Strasburg rolled to a 59-36 non-conference win.

“At first I was slow, I wasn’t really (lifting my shot) up and then I got more confidence and I just kept shooting and I shot my way out of it,” said Jenkins, who hit 12 of 18 shots from the field. “My teammates really helped out with passing the ball and helping me out. They just started falling.”

In what turned into a shootout of sorts between Jenkins and Moorefield senior Tara George (23 points), the second period began in a 13-all tie before Jenkins began heating up. She self-propelled an 11-2 run that gave the Rams (4-7) a 26-17 lead with 2:30 left in the first half, hitting a trio of deep jumpers before capping the spurt with a 3-pointer from the corner.

George answered with one of her four first-half 3-pointers and a bucket in the paint to cut Strasburg’s lead back to four before a free throw by Jenkins and a 3-pointer by Strasburg senior Carey Scott (7 points, 10 rebounds) sent the Rams into halftime with a 30-22 lead.

Rams first-year coach Darin Jenkins said his daughter – who hit 6 of 7 shots in the second quarter – is “playing with a lot of confidence right now.”

“I think what happens is she gets a little bit of confidence, she’s penetrating a little more, getting to the basket, getting to the free-throw line,” Darin Jenkins said. “I think once she feels that confidence in her shots it just all starts falling for her.”

Needing a way to slow down George, the Rams switched to a box-and-one in the second half, with Rams junior Haley Bischoff being tasked with slowing down the Moorefield senior. Bischoff, who finished with six steals in the win, helped limit George to just 7 points in the second half after she tallied 16 in the first two periods.

“She’s our grinder,” Darin Jenkins said of Bischoff. “She never wears down. She’s always up for the challenge. She always wants to be challenged, and we knew when we went to the box-and-one she gave us our best chance with guarding the George girl. She did a great job.”

The Yellow Jackets shot only 22.8 percent (13 for 57) from the floor in the loss, while hitting only 5 of 35 shots (14.3 percent) in the second half. Strasburg also forced 25 turnovers and out-scored Moorefield 29-14 over the final two periods.

“We all definitely worked together and everybody was moving in sync, I guess,” said Bischoff, who also added 8 points and four rebounds. “Like with me shutting (George) down everybody was talking and shifting.

“It makes me feel good,” Bischoff added of being called on to guard the opposing team’s best scorer. “It makes me feel like they can trust me. I like the pressure.”

Buckets by Olivia Gochenour (9 points) and Scott helped the Rams build and maintain a 10-point lead in the third period before Jenkins pushed that lead to 39-26 with a traditional 3-point play off a Gochenour assist midway through the frame.

Strasburg carried a 41-30 lead into the fourth period before Jenkins scored six straight points to put the Rams up 17 with 6:15 to play, enabling some reserve players to see valuable game action.

Though the Rams shot 52 percent (26 for 50) in the win, they were out-rebounded 45-33. Moorefield pulled down 19 rebounds in the third period alone, many of them on the offensive end.

“We couldn’t get them to box out,” Darin Jenkins said. “We just kept giving them rebound after rebound after rebound. I think sometimes when you get up a little bit you lose focus of what you’re trying to do. I think that’s what happened to us.”

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