After slow start, Strasburg girls finding ways to win on the basketball court

Strasburg's Christyan Reid takes the ball to the basket as she is fouled by Warren's County's Cor'shauna Cunningham during second quarter action Tuesday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – It wasn’t a textbook performance, but if Tuesday’s girls basketball game between Strasburg and Warren County high schools proved anything, it’s that the Rams are figuring out how to win.

On a night that saw the Rams slog through a miserable first half, they still managed to pull out a 43-32 non-district victory and have now won three straight games and four of their last five after starting the season 0-2.

Strasburg head coach Darin Jenkins said following Tuesday’s victory that the Rams’ recent success – which has included home wins over Stonewall Jackson and Moorefield (West Virginia) over the last seven days – has started on the practice court.

“We have 12 girls over there that, number one, they get along. They’re a great team, they push each other,” he said. “We’ve got some players. We’ve some girls that can come off the bench and do the little things, play good defense. And I think it’s just a combination of practicing good, having fun, believing in ourselves. If you do that, before you know it, you’re gonna win some games.”

Tuesday’s performance wasn’t quite how Jenkins had drawn it up. Strasburg mustered only 11 points in the first half and trailed by 4 points entering halftime despite holding Warren County without a field goal until the two-minute mark of the second period.

Warren County's Ariana Lopez drives to the basket as Strasburg's Madison Smallwood defends during fourth quarter action Tuesday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

The Rams were spared from a larger deficit at the break only because Warren County (2-5) is still battling its own woes this season and managed to shoot just 13.6 percent (3 of 22) in the first half while turning the ball over 15 times.

“The first half was about as ugly as it could get. I told them at halftime, I don’t know that we did anything good in the first half,” Jenkins said. “We challenged them, we told them what they needed to do, they went out and they responded, so that’s always a good sign.”

Strasburg scored 32 points in the second half – 16 each in the third and fourth periods – and shot 42.3 percent over the final two quarters after shooting only 16 percent in the first half.

The Rams reclaimed the lead in the closing seconds of the third quarter when Christyan Reid hit a stickback to put the Rams up 27-26 and trailed only briefly early in the fourth period before taking the lead for good on Madison Smallwood’s 3-pointer with 6:18 to play.

Reid, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, fueled the Rams’ third-quarter rally by scoring 9 of her 15 points in the frame while pulling down nine rebounds in the win, and fellow sophomore Jaden Alsberry added 10 points as the team’s only other double-figure scorer on Tuesday night. Jenkins added that another forward – 6-foot-2 junior Daniella Henry – also played a pivotal role in the victory.

Strasburg's Daniella Henry gets pressure from Warren County's Cor'shauna Cunningham as she makes a pass during first half action Tuesday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

Henry, who suffered an ankle injury early in the fourth quarter but returned to action later in the period, finished with 6 points and nine rebounds in the win.

“She doesn’t always score the most points but she does a lot of the little things that go unnoticed,” Jenkins said. “She’s playing really well for us right now. She plays good defense, she boxes out, she rebounds. And it showed a lot about her when she got hurt there with her ankle and then she wanted to come back in.”

For Warren County, the loss to Strasburg – its second of the season to the Rams – was the team’s fifth defeat in its last six games and continued what first-year head coach Christine Simmons said has been a season-long struggle to put a full four quarters together.

The Wildcats – led by Lauren Fox’s 10 points and nine rebounds – trailed only 34-32 with less than three minutes remaining on Tuesday night but were outscored 9-0 from that point on. They shot only 22.4 percent from the floor in the loss, hit 10 of 25 free throws (Warren County was 0 for 6 from the line in the fourth period) and set a new season low in points scored.

“We’ve gotta keep making changes and figure out what the issue is, obviously,” Simmons said.

Warren County's Lauren Fox tries to steal the ball from Strasburg's Christyan Reid after a rebound during fourth quarter action Tuesday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

“It’s a little bit different than what they’re used to, maybe. We’re not quite sure what the deal is yet. We’re obviously still working on it.”

Warren County's Nichole Rittgers drives to the basket as Strasburg's Daniella defends during fourth quarter action Tuesday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily