Defense, balanced attack sparks Rams past Eagles
STRASBURG — It had been quite a while since Strasburg had defeated Clarke County, but on Monday night the Rams used a solid defensive effort and balanced scoring to make it happen.
The Rams held the Eagles to only three first-half field goals en route to a 52-34 Bull Run District and Conference 35 girls basketball victory.
“I think our defense is what made us come out on top, going into halftime,” Strasburg senior Carey Scott said. “…I think our defense helped us and kept us in the game a lot. This is mine and Kelsey’s (Jenkins) first year beating Clarke so it was a great feeling for us to finally beat them.”
The Rams lost in overtime to the Eagles, 42-38, earlier this season, and Strasburg coach Darin Jenkins said he knew if they played well on the defensive end they could win.
“They’ve sort of been a thorn in our side for quite a few years and I challenged the girls before we started,” Darin Jenkins said. “We said ‘hey, the opportunity’s there tonight if you can play good defense.’ And they went out and they executed well, and they did exactly what we asked them to do. It was definitely a team effort.”
The first period was sluggish for both teams. The Eagles made only one basket, and went 1-for-6 from the free-throw line. Strasburg went 3-for-11 from the floor, and turned the ball over nine times, but still held an 8-3 lead after the first eight minutes.
Strasburg’s offense came to life in the second period. The Rams went on a 12-2 run to start the second period, including four points from sophomore Olivia Gochenour.
The Rams (8-10, 5-5, Bull Run, 2-3 Conference 35) went 7-for-11 from the field (63.6 percent) in the second period. The Rams out-scored Clarke County 18-5 during the period and six different players score.
“I think we were definitely a little more balanced tonight scoring wise, and we’ve been waiting for that all year,” Darin Jenkins said. “I think when we can get to that point consistently, I think were a pretty good team. Hopefully, going down the stretch here we’ve got that part figured out and continue to move forward.”
The Eagles (7-11, 4-6 Bull Run, 3-4 Conference 35) made a run at the Rams in the third period. Strasburg built the lead to 20 points early in the third, but the Eagles went on a 17-6 run to end the third period and cut the lead to 36-27.
Gochenour scored on back-to-back baskets to start the fourth period for a 40-27 lead with 7:07 left.
Clarke County would get no closer than 10 points the rest of the way. Gochenour led the Rams with 12 points, four rebounds and three steals.
“I was really just hustling. I was trying to give it my all,” Gochenour said. “This is the first game I’ve played all the way through, and I was just trying to get more shots and play more with the girls.”
Darin Jenkins said it was the most minutes Gochenour has played all season, and he was very proud of the way she played.
“Olivia can play. She was a big factor tonight,” Darin Jenkins said. “I thought she rebounded well. I thought she handled the ball well on the offensive end, and she shot the ball well.”
The Eagles were led by Morgan Withers with 12 points.
Strasburg had seven different players score. Scott had 10 points and four rebounds, and Daniella Henry had 10 points and five rebounds for Strasburg. Kelsey Jenkins had eight points, six rebounds and four assists, and Haley Bischoff had six points and 10 rebounds.
The win moves Strasburg into a tie for third place with Clarke County in Conference 35. The top three teams get an automatic Region 2A East berth. The Rams have two more games this week and then two more next week to finish the regular season.
“This is definitely a confidence booster going into next week, and playing Central on our senior night this Thursday. It’s a big confidence booster,” Scott said. “(Darin Jenkins) said that we could possibly have three wins this week, and this is our first one. So, I think we’re getting there.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or email@example.com