Rams struggling to find footing on offense

Strasburg's Dylan Hamrick fires a three point shot from the corner during third quarter action Tuesday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – To say Strasburg High School’s boys basketball team went cold from the floor during Tuesday night’s home game against Warren County would be an understatement.

The Rams shot just 24.6 percent from the field in their 58-40 non-district loss, connecting on only 14 of 57 shot attempts. They hit no more than four field goals in any of the four quarters of action. They made only three of 31 shots from beyond the 3-point arc, and missed their first 22 shots from distance.

The Rams weren’t just cold against the Wildcats – they were frigid.

“It was just one of those nights where it didn’t matter what we were doing, the ball just wasn’t going in the hole,” Strasburg first-year head coach Larry Fox said following Tuesday’s loss. “At that point you get down and you’re just constantly fighting uphill.”

The start of the 2017-18 season as a whole has been an uphill battle for the Rams (0-3), who are coming off a 3-20 season last winter and are still searching for their first win under a new head coach. Tuesday’s offensive struggles simply continued what has become a theme for Strasburg in the early going.

Strasburg's Justin King shoots over the outstretched arm of Warren County's David Kelly during first half action Tuesday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

The Rams are averaging only 40 points per game through their first three contests and have yet to score more than 41 points after losses to Page County (55-39), Stonewall Jackson (60-41) and Warren County. Strasburg was on pace for its lowest output of the season before scoring 18 points in the final period after scoring 22 through the first three quarters on Tuesday night.

Fox, who had previously coached in Strasburg’s boys basketball program as the middle school and junior varsity head coach, said on Tuesday he expected some of the growing pains the Rams are currently experiencing.

“You think about the returning guys that we have and then really some newcomers, to be honest with you it’s like you’re starting a new team all over, almost,” Fox said. “They’ve gotta learn how to play with each other and adjust with different styles.”

After turning the ball over between 25 and 30 times in each of the first two games, Fox said, Strasburg placed an emphasis on ball security over the last few days. The Rams turned the ball over 20 times against Warren County, a small improvement, but couldn’t capitalize on the additional shot opportunities.

“Tonight I thought we took care of the ball a little bit better than we have in the past, and we were able to get shots up, but they just weren’t falling for us,” Fox said.

Strasburg's Satchel Roller fires a three-point shot during first half action Tuesday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

Strasburg, which was without junior Brody Tomblin (illness), a starter who scored 19 points against Stonewall last week, fell behind early against Warren County, trailing 15-6 after the first period and 35-13 at halftime.

Things were more even over the final two periods – Strasburg outscored the Wildcats 27-23 in the second half – but the Rams’ shooting woes inhibited any thoughts of a comeback.

The Rams didn’t hit a 3-pointer until Dylan Hamrick – who led the team with 13 points and joined senior point guard Justin King (10 points) as Strasburg’s only double-figure scorers – buried a trey from the top of the arc with six minutes to play, and though Strasburg scored 18 points in the fourth quarter, the Rams still only made 4 of 17 field goals in the frame.

“We just need to learn how to fight through that adversity a little bit,” said Fox, whose team returns to action Friday at James Wood. “I think our group, we kind of get in a hole a little bit and we’re almost like, ‘here we go again.’ We need to get a little mentally tough there and say, ‘let’s fight back here a little bit. Let’s go on our little run.'”