Wildcats get first complete effort of season in win over Strasburg

Warren County's Hunter Pratscher shoots a scoop shot in the lane as he is fouled by Strasburg's Austin Miller during first half action Tuesday night in Strasburg. Pratscher converted for a three point play. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – Warren County High School’s boys basketball team played a step above its Class 3 classification in each of its first two games of the season and failed to put together a complete game in either one. The Wildcats found success for all four quarters on Tuesday night at Strasburg.

Warren County led wire-to-wire against the Rams to pick up a 58-40 non-district win for its first victory under new head coach John Kelly, who called Tuesday’s game the most complete effort the Wildcats have put together through the season’s first three games.

“We needed this,” said Kelly, whose team started the season 0-2 with lopsided losses to Class 4 opponents Millbrook and Woodgrove. “It’s a step in the right direction for us. They’re young. I think we have 10 underclassmen on our team, and you have to learn to win. It’s one of the hardest things you can do. It’s a valuable step for us.”

How Warren County beat the Rams (0-3) was perhaps the most encouraging sign for Kelly and the Wildcats.

Warren County’s defense limited Strasburg – which was ice-cold from beyond the 3-point arc – to less than 25 percent shooting from the floor and forced 20 turnovers, showing success with full-court zone pressure in the first half and mixing man-to-man and two different half-court zones into the equation throughout the night.

Warren County's Robert Cameron shoots over Strasburg's Stephen Kloosterman and Russell Reeder during first quarter action Tuesday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

On offense, the Wildcats shot 45 percent, had three players in double-figure scoring and displayed the ability to score in transition as well as in half-court sets. Warren County had 16 fast-break points in the win, but showed how effective its offense can be when on one possession late in the first half, the Wildcats worked the ball around the perimeter before senior Jonathan Brown, from the left corner, found a cutting Hunter Pratscher in the lane on the eighth pass of the possession for an easy bucket.

“That’s kind of what we’re trying to hope towards because we don’t need to make one pass and one shot,” said Kelly, who’s team scored 36 of its 58 points in the paint in the win and held a 35-13 lead at halftime. “… In our offense we look for layups, and if you keep working the ball around, the defense will break down. They did that and they showed that, and we kept our lead, kept them from coming back as well in the first half.”

Pratscher led the Wildcats with 13 points off the bench, and fellow junior guard Robert Cameron and senior forward Marcus Adams each had 12 points in the win. Senior point guard Colby Garnett had 7 points and two steals, senior forward Hunter Wines had 6 points and sophomore forward Jonathan McCarty had 4 points and eight rebounds.

“I told them, all around, it wasn’t that we had many players score, we had all five positions score,” Kelly said. “That makes it hard to defend you when you have all five spots playing well offensively and defensively.”

The Wildcats took turns shining, as well. Cameron and senior point guard Colby Garnett each scored 6 points in the opening quarter as Warren County raced out to a 15-6 lead. Adams came off the bench to score 10 points in the second period as the Wildcats’ full-court press generated some fast-break opportunities for the senior, and Pratscher – another Wildcat who thrived off the bench on Tuesday – scored 12 of his 13 points in the second and third quarters.

Warren County's Aaron Schroyer, left, and Strasburg's Dylan Hamrick, right, make contact with the ball during third quarter action Tuesday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

“We have a lot of good players and tonight I think a lot of our potential finally showed,” Cameron said. “I just think that there’s no limit to what we can do.

“I think tonight was just a really good team performance,” he added. “There wasn’t any 30-point scorer. It was consistent around. Everybody played fantastic. There was nobody that played bad. If we keep playing like this I think we can beat anybody.”