Rams’ return to basketball court leads week’s local sports news

STRASBURG – The high school winter sports season begins anew for local schools this week, and no team needs that fresh start more than Strasburg’s boys basketball team.

The Rams’ 2015-16 season was cut short back in early January after an investigation into student misconduct on a team bus resulted in the cancellation of the remainder of Strasburg’s boys basketball games and sent shockwaves through the school and the community.

Strasburg, now led by first-year head coach Hamilton Doyle, will return to the court on Tuesday with junior varsity/varsity home games against Page County in what will be the Rams’ first boys basketball contests since Jan. 7.

“I think we jumped back in the water again and stuff and I think it’s very important,” Doyle said after the Rams’ scrimmage against Skyline last Tuesday. “I mean nothing erases something bad except just jumping back in there and doing it again, so I think it was pretty good for us.”

Strasburg’s program has undergone a major overhaul behind an influx of new coaches and players. Only one player (senior Cory Clinedinst), who participated in Strasburg’s scrimmage last week, was on the varsity team last season, and Doyle said the Rams’ roster is filled with young players who were formerly on the junior varsity squad or boys who are new to the team altogether.

Doyle said the growing pains were apparent early in the scrimmage but that he noticed the team starting to settle in as the game went along, adding that the “future is bright” for the Rams’ boys basketball program.

“Overall,looking at the night, for us not playing the whole season last year and starting with a whole bunch of new faces and a new coach and a new system, I didn’t think it was too bad,” Doyle said. “I’m gonna take away the good things and work on the good things, and some of the things that we do need to work on and stuff, I think it’s just a matter of IQ and guys learning how to play.”

Doyle will be one of three Shenandoah County coaches to make his boys varsity basketball debut this week. Central, which has had its own legal troubles within its boys basketball program over the last five months, will start fresh under new head coach Jeff Whittle when the Falcons travel to East Rockingham for a weekend tournament.

Stonewall Jackson will open its 2016-17 season with a road trip to Rappahannock County on Tuesday, the first game for Mike Lenox, who also coaches the Generals’ varsity baseball team. Lenox and the Generals will travel to Strasburg for a county rivalry game on Friday.

Sherando’s boys basketball team also opens its season with a home game against Conference 21 West foe Harrisonburg on Tuesday, while Skyline travels to Rappahannock County for its opener on Thursday. Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy hosts the Loudoun Patriots on Tuesday, Massanutten Military Academy hosts Shenandoah Valley Academy on Wednesday and Randolph-Macon Academy travels to Mercersburg (Pennsylvania) Academy on Friday.

Girls basketball

Five of the six local public high schools will kick off their girls hoops season on Tuesday.

In Shenandoah County, Central travels to Handley for its opener before hosting a weekend tournament (that also includes Sherando), Stonewall hosts Rappahannock County and Strasburg travels to Page. Strasburg also hosts Stonewall on Thursday.

Rounding out Tuesday’s openers are Skyline’s home game against Park View (Sterling) and Sherando’s road contest at Harrisonburg.

MMA also hosts SVA on Wednesday, R-MA hosts Wakefield Country Day School on Thursday and SVCA travels to Grace Academy on Friday.

Wrestling

The two Front Royal high schools open the new season with home meets on Saturday, as Skyline hosts the Elite Opener while Warren County hosts its annual duals tournament.

Stonewall will travel to Waynesboro for a tournament on Saturday, while Sherando will compete in a two-day tournament hosted by Hedgesville Senior High in West Virginia on Friday and Saturday.

Postgraduate boys basketball

Massanutten Military Academy’s postgraduate basketball team will host the George Sheetz Classic on Saturday and Sunday. The Colonels (6-2) are coming off back-to-back losses in the prestigious National Prep Showcase on Nov. 19-20.

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