Rams win defensive struggle

Strasburg's Tyler Fincham is fouled by Clarke County's Hayden Good on a drive to the basket off a first quarter steal on Tuesday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – It was a typical Strasburg-Clarke County game on Tuesday night.

The Rams saw an early double-digit lead evaporate, but responded with a run in the final period to pull out a 45-34 Bull Run District boys basketball victory over the Eagles.

“It’s one of those Clarke County-Strasburg games,” Strasburg coach Matt Hiserman said. “I mean, it doesn’t matter who’s got a winning record, who’s got a losing record. (Clarke County) coach (Brent) Emmart is one of the best coaches around. He prepares his teams better than anybody you play. He knows what you’re going to do. He gets his kids prepared for what you’re going to do.”

The Rams (7-4, 3-2 Bull Run) found themselves in a defensive struggle over the final three periods. Strasburg entered the fourth period with a 28-25 edge.

The Eagles (1-6, 0-4 Bull Run) scored the first four points of the fourth on back-to-back baskets by Hayden Good for a 29-28 lead with 6:40 left in the contest. It was Clarke County’s first and only lead of the game.

Clarke County's Marc Damiano deflects a pass by Strasburg's Mekhi Hendricks during first quarter action on Tuesday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

Strasburg responded with a seven straight points. Strasburg junior Tyler Fincham hit a free throw and scored on a driving layup to start the run, and senior Tyler Brill drained a 3-pointer with 4:24 left.

“I think we got a couple turnovers there in that run,” Hiserman said. “We switched from our 2-2-1 (defense) to our full-court man and got a couple turnovers right there and forced them to speed up a little bit.”

Hiserman said he was also happy with the play of 6-foot-4 junior Connor Keane, who had three rebounds down the stretch in the fourth period.

Strasburg’s Jordan Stump also gave the rams a lift off the bench with a couple rebounds and a steal as the Rams began to pull away.

“We got his focus back,” Hiserman said of Stump. “He just kind of looked dead like the rest of them when he went there in the first half, kind of going through the motions. Jordan’s a kid that can give us a great spark off the bench.”

Strasburg's Tyler Brill makes a pass to teammate Tyler Fincham while Clarke County's Michael Dietz defends during their game last week in Strasburg. The Rams host Central on Thursday to highlight a busy week of high school sports. Rich Cooley/Daily

The Eagles were able to cut the lead to as little as 35-32 on a basket by Good with 3:31 left, but the Rams closed out the game with a 9-2 run. Fincham started the run once again with a driving layup and the team made six free throws down the stretch.

Fincham said the Rams weren’t as focused at the start of the game as they needed to be.

“I don’t think many of us were ready for the game,” Fincham said. “That’s what coach told us. After halftime, most of us got focused and ready for the game.”

Strasburg started the game off with a flurry. The Rams were able to get turnovers from their defense, and were able to knock down some looks from outside. Trevin Howard had three 3-pointers in the first period to help give them a 16-6 lead.

Everything changed in the second period. Strasburg didn’t score a point, going 0-for-10 from the field as the Eagles cut the lead to 16-15 at the half.

Fincham led the Rams with 15 points, while Howard had 11. Mekhi Hendricks had nine points, including going 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the second half.

The Rams play at Madison County on Thursday night in another big district and Conference 35 game.

“It’s going to be intense,” Fincham said. “It’s going to be a hard fought game, and we’re going to have to play good.”

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