STRASBURG — In a game of momentum shifts, Page County got the last and biggest one.
The Panthers used a big run to end the game to rally for a 52-45 victory over Strasburg in Bull Run District boys basketball action Monday.
“The game of basketball is just about momentum,” Strasburg boys basketball coach Larry Fox said. “We got some momentum there in the second quarter and they got momentum in the fourth quarter, I guess when it counted the most.”
The Rams led 34-26 with six minutes left in the game after senior Craig Pangle scored on a layup. The Panthers scored six quick points on back-to-back conventional three-point plays by Trevor Williams and Dylan Hensley.
The Rams (7-7, 3-4 Bull Run) bounced back as Pangle converted a conventional three-point play of his own and senior guard Derek Fox made two free throws for a 39-34 lead with 3:57 left.
Page County (8-6, 6-1 Bull Run) turned up its defensive pressure in the fourth quarter and it began to take its toll on the Rams.
The Panthers went on an 8-2 run, aided by four Strasburg turnovers, for a 42-41 lead with 1:31 left in the game.
“It got to the point where they were desperate, and we kind of bought into what they were trying to get us to do,” Larry Fox said. “We were kind of running around and not getting into any sort of offense the way we wanted to. But their pressure caused a lot of that. It wasn’t just on us. They dictated with the pressure they applied on us.”
Two free throws by senior point guard Kamryn Pangle gave the Rams a 43-42 lead. Page County’s Chase Combs gave the Panthers the lead for good on a driving layup with 53 seconds left.
After a missed shot by the Rams, Page County’s Ricky Campbell made a layup on a breakaway with 39 seconds left for a 46-43 edge.
The Rams were called for a technical foul after the play when one of the players slammed the ball down.
Combs hit both free throws for a 48-43 lead. Then a steal and a layup by Page County’s Freddy Stidham extended the lead to 50-43 with 17 seconds remaining.
“Somewhere down the line this game will help us with being able to handle that kind of situation,” Larry Fox said. “And how often are you in that situation where you’re up or down by one or two baskets — and just dealing with that adversity?”
The Rams entered the game having lost two straight games and being in a shooting slump. The slump continued in the opening quarter as Strasburg went 2-for-13 (15.4%) from the field and trailed 11-4 after the first eight minutes.
The second quarter couldn’t have gone much better for the Rams. Strasburg shot 80% (8-for-10) and took as much as a 10-point lead.
“We went on a 13-2 run and we needed that, because we needed to see shots fall,” Derek Fox said. “That was kind of a big stretch to go into halftime and then come back out in the third quarter and we hit some more shots.”
Junior Ron Fox came off the bench and played a big role in the Rams’ second quarter as he had nine points.
“Ron (Fox) came in and he does a good job for us,” Larry Fox said. “He does a lot of good things — he scored some baskets.”
Combs and Hensley each had 12 points to lead the Panthers. Derek Fox and Craig Pangle each had 13 points to lead Strasburg.
Derek Fox said that despite the loss he felt like the Rams turned a corner against Page County.
“It’s been tough,” Derek Fox said of the Rams’ recent struggles. “Shots weren’t falling for us. We lost some confidence, but I think the second and third quarters will build our confidence back up for our future games.”
The Rams host Clarke County today in another key Bull Run District contest.
Larry Fox said the big thing for his team now is to not think about the losses and stay focused on the next game ahead.
“You just kind of have to let go of those games and not hold onto it,” he said. “If you keep holding onto those games it’s going to affect you. We got to get back to playing the way we know we’re capable of playing. We’re a good team. We’ll get back on the right track. We just got to let go of those games and not hold onto it and not let it affect us.”