WOODSTOCK — Dominic Strother saw that his teammates were struggling and knew he needed to pick them up on Monday night.
The Central sophomore had a big first quarter to help the Falcons overcome a slow start en route to a 77-32 victory over Shenandoah County rival Stonewall Jackson in nondistrict boys basketball action.
“I guess (Central senior Sam Shifflett) came out a little flat and (Central senior) Jared (Patton) came out a little flat,” Strother said. “I think I had probably four points early and I knew I had to step it up from there.”
The Generals held an 8-5 lead with 3:04 left in the opening quarter, aided by six points from Calvin Smith. That’s when Strother answered with seven points during a 12-2 run to end the opening period.
He said that he noticed that he was wide open and his teammates found him for easy baskets.
“In the first half I noticed when they were in their 2-3 (zone) and we ran like a Z-1, that’s what we call (our offensive set) the bottom half would always be wide open,” Strother said. “So I told coach that and I just told him to look down there and it was just wide open every time.”
The 6-foot-6 Strother took advantage as he had 12 points and five rebounds in the opening quarter.
Strother had help during the run to end the first quarter from Central’s bench players. Central senior Zeb Dyer drilled a 3-pointer and junior Chase Helsley made a basket.
“We had a little spurt there where some of our guys off the bench played well in the first half,” Central coach Jeff Whittle said. “I think they gave us a spark and a lot of energy, deflections.”
In the second quarter, it was Patton’s turn to take over the scoring role. The senior had 13 points in the frame to help give Central a 41-21 halftime edge.
Central turned things up defensively in the second half and out-scored Stonewall Jackson, 36-11. The Generals missed their first 10 shots of the second half and didn’t score until Ben Hasley made a basket with 1:27 left in the third period.
“The first half we didn’t really come out on defense that well,” Strother said. “But then the second half coach Whittle told us (at halftime) to come out and start playing defense how we were supposed to do it.”
Whittle said he loved how unselfish his team was and has been all season. Shifflett, who is usually one of the top scorers on the team, didn’t score a point but set his teammates up for baskets throughout the game.
“Sam didn’t get a lot of opportunities tonight, but he’s a team player,” Whittle said. “He made extra passes. He’s a great leader. He’s a vocal leader this year. He’s leading by example. He affected the game other ways than scoring tonight. A lot of people may not see that but he affected the game. And I really appreciate him making the extra pass. And not just him but we had a lot of guys do that.”
The Falcons (6-0) had nine different players score. Central’s bench had a combined 28 points, led by 8 points each from Helsley and Kelan Hoover.
The Generals (1-3) were led by Smith and Tyler Dellinger with six points each.
Stonewall Jackson coach Jim Sanders said his young squad played well early, but couldn’t keep it up and that’s been a problem in every game this season.
“We showed at the beginning we can play and do some things,” Sanders said. “ But we’re just not thoroughly there. We can’t play a whole game like that and we’ve been like that the first three games. We’ve been in every game the first three games. We’ve actually been in all three games up to like through the third quarter. And then there’s a little run there where we just let it get away from us.”
Strother finished with a game-high 23 points and nine rebounds, while Patton added 15 points, five assists, and three steals.
Central plays at Sherando tonight in another nondistrict match-up.