Bench play helps Rams knock off Eagles

STRASBURG — When needed, Strasburg got a big boost from its bench on Wednesday night.

The Rams used a big effort from their bench and a strong second half defensively to help pull out a 56-46 Bull Run District win over Clarke County.

“Clarke and us are very similar in the way we play and personnel wise,” Strasburg boys basketball coach Larry Fox said. “So we matchup really well. So we knew going in that it was going to be a just a play or two here or there that was going to make the difference in the game.”

One of the biggest plays of the game came from Da’Neil Holliday. With the Rams clinging to a 7-point lead, Holliday stole the ball and started a Strasburg fast break.

Strasburg’s Stephen Kloosterman took a pass from Holliday and then threw it to a wide-open Dylan Hamrick, who drilled the 3-pointer for a 49-39 lead with 4:59 left.

“Da’Neil (Holliday) made a big play with the steal,” Hamrick said. “And then we just got on the fast break and found the open guy.”

Hamrick said the play gave the team a real energy boost. He said it also got the crowd, especially Strasburg’s student section ‘The Mountain’ into it.

“‘The Mountain’ has really been big for us lately,” Hamrick said. “And it’s really given us energy.”

The trio of Holliday, Derek Fox and Austin Miller each gave the Rams a spark off the bench.

Holliday had seven rebounds to go with his big steal. Derek Fox finished with 12 points and 4 rebounds.

Derek Fox and Holliday, both sophomores, were brought up from the junior varsity squad after the season started and have given the team a lift.

“It’s been pretty good,”  Derek Fox said of his move up to varsity. “I knew coming into varsity was a bigger task, but I’ve adapted to it and played pretty well.”

Miller, a senior, also did his part and finished with 2 points and 5 rebounds.

“Right now we have some guys that are really understanding their role to help us be successful,” Larry Fox said. “I thought Austin (Miller) came off and did a great job, just giving you energy, scoring the ball a little bit, rebounding and playing defense, really understanding his role.”

In the final minutes against Clarke County, the Rams closed the game with a 7-3 run to seal the win.

Larry Fox said he wanted his team to push the ball on offense against Clarke County, but he felt they were letting that affect the way they played defense.

Strasburg’s defense came to life in the second half, holding the Eagles to just 7 field goals.

“In the second half I was like I want us to push the basketball, but I also want us in the half court to really dig in defensively,” Larry Fox said. “I think we gave up 18 points in the second half, which is what we want. That’s the way we need to play.”

Hamrick scored 9 of his team-high 20 points in the fourth period. Hamrick said he was just taking advantage of his opportunities.

“My guys found me when I was open,” Hamrick said. “I can always rely on my guys, and my guys can always rely on me. And it’s easy out there. You just find the open guy. And they’re making it easy for me and for the rest of the team.”

Billy Holsinger led the Eagles with 21 points, while Colby Childs added 10 points.

Justin King had 12 points and 8 rebounds and Kloosterman had 7 points and 5 rebounds for Strasburg.

The Rams (7-11, 3-3 Bull Run) have won two straight games and are confident that they are starting to play their best basketball.

“We’ve talked about it since our last game against Moorefield, we have to be in the mindset of win or go home,” Larry Fox said. “We need to play with that intensity, and I think they’re buying into it.”