STRASBURG — Strasburg had a complete effort from start to finish on Friday night.
The Rams dominated offensively and defensively in a 51-16 victory over Rappahannock County in the Bull Run District tournament girls basketball quarterfinals.
It was the Rams’ sixth consecutive win and coach Darin Jenkins said it all started with the defensive effort.
“I thought our defense played really, really well,” Jenkins said. “I thought we put a lot of pressure on them. ...When we didn’t get a turnover I thought that every shot that they took was a difficult shot for them. Going into it, we felt like that was one of the things we could do well that would help us win. And I thought we went and executed on defense and offense.”
The game was close early, but the Rams’ defense took control of the game in the second period.
Strasburg (17-6) led 15-10 with 7:08 left in the first half. The Rams closed the second period on a 13-0 run for a 30-10 edge at halftime.
The Panthers (7-14) turned the ball over six times during the stretch. Strasburg point guard Nyla Sperry played a part in that success.
The freshman, who transferred from Skyline High School this year, leads the area in steals and had four more in the second period. She also defended Rappahannock County’s Olivia Atkins throughout the game. Atkins had a combined 36 points in the two regular-season meetings between the teams. Atkins had only three points on Friday.
“Nyla (Sperry) has really stepped up her game on both ends,” Jenkins said. “And she’s been a big shot in the arm for us. She’s probably getting to know me a little better. And she’s probably getting to know her teammates a little bit better. She’s probably feeling a little more comfortable.”
Strasburg 6-foot-3 forward Christyan Reid scored 10 points during the decisive run for the Rams, with an assist from four different players.
“We have a lot of good passers,” Reid said. “And in practice, we definitely practice those passes. And we did what we practiced tonight.”
The Rams did not let up in the second half.
Rappahannock County, which had beaten Strasburg once during the regular season, made only two shots in the second half. The Panthers were held scoreless in the fourth period and didn’t make a basket for the last nine minutes and 10 seconds of the contest.
For the game, Rappahannock County shot 17.7 percent (6-for-34) from the field.
Jenkins said that he and his coaching staff have been stressing defense all season, and for whatever reason, during this win streak the players are executing at a high level.
“They’re in the right spot,” Jenkins said. “They’re working harder. And I think just working on defense is half the battle. If you are just willing to work and willing to sacrifice your body and put pressure on your girl, that leads to easy offense. And that’s what we’re trying to stress.”
Reid, who is 17 points from 1,000 for her career, led the Rams with a game-high 21 points. Sperry had nine points, five rebounds and four steals and Jaden Alsberry had six points, eight rebounds, three steals, and six assists. Karly Colcombe had five steals and four assists for the Rams.
Strasburg plays at second-seeded Madison County on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the tourney semifinals. The Rams lost twice to the Mountaineers in the regular season.
“I think the biggest thing we need to do is make sure that our defensive pressure is in the same place it is right now,” Jenkins said. “There cannot be a letdown. ...We’ll watch film (from the regular season meetings) and see what we did good. And see what we did bad. And see what we can improve on. And go over there and give it our best shot.”