Rams top Hawks in local tourney

STRASBURG–Strasburg put three players in double figures –led by sophomore guard Tyler Fincham’s 15 points–and held Skyline to a meaningless basket in the fourth period on Saturday to advance to the final round of its own Ram Hardwood Classic.

Strasburg used its defense to pull out a 49-36 win over Skyline. Strasburg will face Luray on Monday in the championship game at 7:30 p.m.

Luray (4-2) tripped East Hardy (W.Va.) (0-5) 62-49 in the other semifinal. The Hawks (3-5) will take on the Cougars in the consolation game at 6 p.m.

“Strasburg does a good job with its press, getting into the passing lanes and using its feet and arms and fingers to knock away passes,” Skyline coach Jacob Bates said. “Of course we played into it, relying on jump shots on the perimeter, rather than passing the ball and working it down low.”

Strasburg used full-court man-to-man pressure to wear down Skyline. It did not pick off passes and turn over dribbles as much as–cumulatively–making the Hawks apprehensive on each end of the floor. Ultimately, the losing team became weary.

The Rams turned the Hawks over 15 times, compared to losing the ball on 10 occasions. Reserves Noah St. Clair and Adam Miller led the way with two steals apiece.

“It’s a man-to-man press, which is the only thing we’ve been working on during this part of the schedule because we’ve been playing so many games,” Strasburg coach Matt Hiserman said. “We might get into some trapping later on, but for now, that’s what we’ve got.”

Along with the press, Strasburg did a good job of protecting the ball and keeping it away from the athletic Hawks.

“They’re a really good team with a lot of talent, but one of the things we pride ourselves on is taking care of the ball,” Fincham said. “Everybody seems to be able to pass and dribble on this team, no matter what position they play.”

Ryan Smoot and Jordan Stump 10 points each for the Rams (7-2).

Big man Brandon Walters tallied 14 for Skyline, followed by teammate Colin Smith. The latter nailed four consecutive 3-pointers to finish with 12 points.

Skyline’s Bates paid Smoot an indirect compliment. He said he was forced to hold out Walters, 6-foot-4, through much of the second half because of Smoot’s ability to handle the ball.

“Otherwise, he was just going to stand out there and dribble,” Bates said. “We had to put someone on him that was quicker.”

“We take pride in that everybody on the team is pretty much inter-changeable, whether they play inside or out. We pulled Ryan out to get their big man away from the basket,” Hiserman said.

It worked. Walters scored just two points in the second half–none in the fourth quarter.

He picked up his third foul with his team trailing 37-30 with 2:22 showing in the third period.

He returned with 5:45 to go in the game, but Strasburg expanded its lead to 15 until he left the floor for good.

There were five early ties and two lead changes. Strasburg led at the half 27-23, then out-scored Skyline 12-7 just after Walters came out of the game to go ahead by nine.

Leading 49-34 with 3:53 to go, Hiserman had his five Rams fan out in the half-court and ice the game away by keeping the ball out of the hands of the Hawks.

Skyline scored for the only time of the last period as the game ended.

Strasburg out-rebounded Skyline 26-15 with freshman point guard Mekhi Hendricks leading the way with seven boards. Smoot finished with five.

Hiserman pointed to his team’s 8-for-16 performance at the foul line as something he wanted to correct.

“I don’t know what’s going on there, but we’ll have to work on it,” Hiserman said.