STRASBURG - During Strasburg's current win streak one thing has been a constant key factor - defense.
On Tuesday night, the Rams used another strong defensive performance to propel them to a 47-22 Bull Run District girls basketball victory over Rappahannock County. It was Strasburg's fifth straight win.
Strasburg girls basketball coach Darin Jenkins said he's been proud of how his team has been playing defense over the last five games.
"I think our defense right now, in this little stretch that we've been playing well, our defense I think is the majority of the reason," Jenkins said. "We got confidence in each other. We understand defense now and help side and helping and closing gaps. And I think that defense has led to offense."
The Rams (16-6, 6-4 Bull Run) were a little sluggish to start the game, and Jenkins said part of the reason was probably due to playing on Monday night. The Rams beat Bull Run District regular season champion George Mason, 60-51, on Monday on the road and Jenkins said the team got home late and were coming off a big win.
With the score tied at 3 with less than three minutes left in the opening period on Tuesday, the Rams broke the game open. Strasburg went on a 15-0 run, which stretched into the second period for an 18-3 lead.
Rappahannock County (6-13, 1-8 Bull Run) went seven minutes and 53 seconds without scoring a point.
"I think our defense was up," Strasburg junior Jaden Alsberry said. "We just played fast. We played our game, played our speed."
The Rams led 22-8 at the half and it was more of the same in the third period. The Rams went on a 9-0 run to put the game out of reach.
Many of Strasburg's points came off of turnovers leading to layups. Rappahannock County turned the ball over five times in the first three minutes of the second half.
Strasburg freshman point guard Nyla Sperry was a big part of that throughout the night. Sperry, who leads the area in steals, had five steals against the Panthers.
"Defense is probably my favorite part of the game," Sperry said. I like to get after it. Defense is how you win games. And when you're up on them like that it's just hard for them. And puts a lot of pressure on them. Then they rush and just turn the ball over. And it's easier for us."
Over their five-game winning streak, the Rams are allowing just 36 points per contest.
Alsberry said the team has learned to like playing defense.
"I think it's just more fun now," Alsberry said of playing defense. "At the beginning of the season, we didn't like defense. But every day at practice coach Jenkins tells us that good defense makes easy offense and we just finally do that."
All 10 players that were available played on Tuesday and Jenkins was able to put his second string in for the last six minutes of the first half and the Panthers only gained a point on the Rams during that stretch.
It was also senior night for the Rams and Daniella Henry and Debra Dillman were both honored before the game.
The Panthers beat the Rams, 50-45, on Jan. 18.
The two teams will meet again on Friday at 6 p.m. in the Bull Run District tournament quarterfinals. Rappahannock County will also be at Strasburg in the boys basketball quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Both Strasburg squads will be the third seed in the tourney with Rappahannock the sixth seed.
On Tuesday, the Panthers were led by Olivia Atkins with 13 points.
Strasburg 6-foot-3 center Christyan Reid had 14 points and seven rebounds. Alsberry had 14 points, seven rebounds, five steals, four assists, and three blocks. Sperry added nine points, five rebounds, and five steals.
The Rams now set their sights on trying to win the Bull Run District tournament and gaining a top seed for the regional tournament.
"I think we have a good chance if we keep our heads up and keep going 100 percent in practice and games," Alsberry said.