STRASBURG – Strasburg boys basketball coach Larry Fox said it’s too early to tell just how much success his team can have this season.
The Rams had only seven players for practice until this week due to the success of the football team. Strasburg has also had to deal with injury. Senior Da’Neil Holliday tore a knee ligament during football season and won’t be able to play basketball this season.
“There’s still a lot of unknown at this point,” Fox said before Tuesday’s practice. “Obviously we’ve got the (Kamryn and Craig) Pangle, Derek (Fox). Then we’ve got some younger guys that are going to help us moving up (from junior varsity) like Ron (Fox), Trey Stinnette. Those guys are going to be key for us. We have Trevor Sager. We’ve got quite a few seniors, which we’re going to need because we’ve got some younger guys that are going to have to feel their way through it the first couple weeks, especially with the extension of football season.
The Rams also lost Dylan Hamrick, who transferred to Central in the offseason. However, the team still has a plethora of guards led by Derek Fox, Kamryn and Craig Pangle and Sager. Last year Craig Pangle averaged 12.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Derek Fox averaged 9.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 steals per contest last season and Kamryn Pangle averaged 9.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Derek Fox said that he and Kamryn and Craig Pangle have grown closer together as they played more together in the offseason.
“Me, Craig and Kamryn played AAU together,” Derek Fox said. “So we got some extra chemistry. So hopefully that will translate to the season.”
Between losing Holliday, Hamrick and 2019 graduate Stephen Kloosterman, the Rams will be looking to replace 15.9 rebounds per contest.
Holliday would have been the Rams’ top returning post player but with him out for the season Larry Fox said the team will have to rely even more on some of their younger, newer players to help out.
“We’re going to have some key roles to fill,” Larry Fox said. “Ron (Fox) and Trey (Stinnette) and Ryan Jenkins moving up from that successful JV team last year, they’re going to have to an opportunity sooner than we all probably expected.”
Craig Pangle said the new players have done a good job in the preseason of fitting in with the team.
“They’re meshing with us pretty good,” Craig Pangle said. “They’re getting used to it. They’re getting better.”
Larry Fox said that the Rams will be undersized but thinks they can overcome that with their speed and style of play.
“We’re going to have kids that can play multiple positions,” he said. “We’re not going to be huge, which is kind of good based on how we play. They can do different things and you can’t per se stick a kid in the post, but we’re going to have basketball players that can do multiple things. That will help us I think.”
One thing that should also help the Rams is having the experience back from last year’s team. The Rams went 16-11 and played their best basketball at the end of the season. Strasburg beat Staunton in the Region 2B quarterfinals and played for a Class 2 state berth, falling to George Mason in the region semis.
Larry Fox said he’s hoping his team can do the same thing this year that it did last year.
“I don’t think any team is going into the season not anticipating competing for district titles, region titles,” Larry Fox said. “Obviously you just want to get better game by game, practice by practice. But the ultimate goal is to be ready for postseason play and that’s what I thought we did last year. We learned as we went along with the addition of the Pangle kids (who transferred from Sherando) and we got better and better. Then toward the end of the year we were playing pretty well.”
Strasburg opens its season Tuesday at home with Warren County.
The Bull Run District will be difficult again this season with the addition of reigning Class 2 state finalist East Rockingham, along with Page County, Stonewall Jackson and Luray.
Larry Fox said that his goal for his team right now is just simply to improve every day.
“Just filling out all the voids and the changes that we have with DaNeil (Holliday) getting hurt, it’s going to be challenging in the beginning,” he said. “We’re going to have to feel our way through it in the beginning here and get the kids on the same page. We’re going to have to progress practice-by-practice and game-by-game and look to improve each and every day.”