Central girls stifle Warren County in road win

Warren County's Kima Robinson strips the ball from Central's Cianne Fields as she drives to the basket for a layup during second half action Tuesday night in Front Royal. Robinson was charged with a foul on the play. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – First-year coach Bryan Scott has emphasized the importance of defense since taking over the helm of Central’s girls basketball team. On Tuesday night against Warren County, the Falcons’ defense once again propelled them to victory.

Central forced Warren County into 23 turnovers and held the Wildcats to less than 15 percent shooting from the floor, as the Falcons rolled to a 55-27 Bull Run District win on the road.

“I preach it every day,” Scott said of his defense-first philosophy, which has led the Falcons to a 16-1 record this season. “That’s what I started out at the beginning of the season telling these girls, that I’m a defensive-minded coach. And that’s what we’re gonna do, we’re gonna play defense. If you’re gonna play for me you’re definitely gonna play defense.”

Central, which varied its defensive looks between a full-court zone press and some half-court man-to-man and 3-2 zone, quickly built a sizeable lead in the first period. After an early stickback by Falcons junior Tamra Scott (game-high 14 points, 13 rebounds) gave Central a 2-0 lead, Warren County (8-11) took its only lead of the game when Hayley Martin (team-high 9 points) hit a 3-pointer from the wing with 6:08 left in the first period.

Then it was all Falcons, who used a 19-0 run to blow the game open.

Central's Meredith Phillips fouls Warren County's Samantha Schroyer during second quarter action Tuesday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

The quartet of Tamra Scott, Ayanna Strother (10 points), Meredith Phillips (9 points, six rebounds) and Brooklyn Pumphrey helped Central build a 14-3 lead with buckets midway through the first period before Bailey Gale ended a four-minute scoring drought with a 3-pointer that gave the Falcons a 17-3 lead heading into the second quarter.

That lead would grow to 21-3 after a pair of free throws by Pumphrey and Gale in the second frame before Warren County senior Sam Schroyer (8 points, five rebounds) finally ended the Wildcats’ eight-minute scoring drought with a stickback with 5:55 left in the first half.

Of Warren County’s 13 first-half turnovers, six were Falcon steals.

“They’ve got that quick point guard (Kima Robinson) so I didn’t think our press was gonna be to our advantage tonight,” Bryan Scott said, “so I kind of laid back and did a lot of half-court stuff.”

The Wildcats made just one shot in 12 attempts from the field in the first period and had just three total made field goals in the first half, setting the tone for a night in which the Wildcats shot 13.7 percent (8 for 58) from the floor.

Warren County's Kima Robinson, left, and Central's Kendall Herbaugh, right, go after a loose ball during second half girls basketball action Tuesday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

“I thought we actually took better shots than we have the last couple of games, they just weren’t gonna go in,” Wildcats coach John Kelly said. “They set the stage early on when they played very physical that first quarter. … We didn’t really bounce back from them playing physical until the fourth quarter.”

Central carried a 28-11 lead into halftime and began playing some of its reserve players early in the third period. Despite turning the ball over eight times in the third quarter, the Falcons out-scored Warren County 12-8 in the frame to take a 40-19 lead into the final period.

Central shot 37.7 percent (20 for 53) from the floor in the win and held a 51-41 rebound advantage over the Wildcats, who were led by Arianna Smoot’s nine boards.

“We’ve got a stretch of three games on the road, we played tonight, we play tomorrow night and Thursday, so I kind of wanted to get a big lead so I could sub and get some of the starters some breaks,” Bryan Scott said.

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