By Randy Arrington
STRASBURG, Feb. 17 — Through three quarters on Friday night the Luray Bulldogs looked like they would potentially pull off their third upset of the week and claim their fourth consecutive district title. However, Strasburg junior Macy Smith carried the Rams on her back and scored 15 of Strasburg’s 21 points in the fourth quarter. Smith would finish the night with a game-high 32 points as No. 2 Strasburg overcame No. 5 Luray and claimed the Bull Run District Tournament championship, 56-46.
The Bulldogs and the Rams have created quite a rivalry at the top of the district standings over the past three years. Luray came out on top in their last meeting in the district title game, 48-44, three years ago. This season the two teams split, with Luray losing on the road by the same score of 56-46 on Jan. 10 and then winning at home, 54-43, on Feb. 7.
Luray upset No. 1 Clarke, 42-33, on Wednesday to advance to the district championship, while Strasburg knocked off No. 3 Rappahannock, 47-35.
In Friday night’s title game, Luray jumped to an early 9-2 lead thanks to three consecutive three-pointers, one from junior Emily Donovan and two from junior Maggie Foltz. However, an 11-4 lead late in the first period was cut to just a two-point margin as the Rams went on a 5-0 run in the final 50 seconds.
Strasburg then outscored Luray 16-12 in the second quarter behind eight points from Smith, including two shots from beyond the arc. The Rams took their first lead of the game, 21-19, when Smith hit her second three-pointer with 2:05 left in the first half. Just three minutes earlier, Luray had lead 18-12.
The game would be tied twice in the first half’s final two minutes on buckets by Luray seniors Jaidyn McClung and Lindsay Bly. The Bulldogs picked up five points at the line and three buckets from the floor in the second period, including another triple from Donovan. However, a few turnovers by Luray and a trio of three-pointers from the Rams gave Strasburg a 25-23 lead at the half.
Luray regained the momentum in the third, outscoring Strasburg 15-10. The Bulldogs went 6-of-7 from the line, picked up another triple from Foltz, and got buckets from Donovan and Bly. Smith scored seven of the Rams’ 10 points in the period, while Strasburg went 2-for-5 from the stripe. Luray headed to the fourth quarter leading by three, 38-35, in what had been a pretty evenly played title game. Each team had scored in spurts, but neither could maintain their narrow single-digit lead.
Things changed in the fourth. Luray was hampered by a fourth foul from McClung with 6:42 remaining. The senior standout would sit on the bench until the final four minutes of the game. Meanwhile, Smith completely took over. The Rams went on a 21-8 run in the final eight minutes behind 15 points from Smith. The Strasburg junior hit two three-pointers and three times stole the ball for an easy layup at the other end.
The Bulldogs would finish out the game going 4-of-7 at the free throw line and only hitting two buckets from the floor (2-for-12) in the fourth quarter. Donovan lead Luray with 16 points, while McClung had 12, Foltz scored 11 and Bly added seven.
Smith was the only Ram in double digits, with 32 on the night. Freshman Emily Gorrell had eight points, while freshman Jayden Stinnette scored six and senior Jada Hill added five.
The No. 3 Bulldogs (15-9) will now host the No. 6 Page County Panthers ( 11-12) at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21 in the quarterfinal round of the Region B Tournament. No. 2 Strasburg (19-6) will host No. 7 East Rockingham (9-14).
The two other Region B quarterfinals on Tuesday night will feature No. 5 Central (14-9) at No. 4 Buckingham (16-8), and No. 8 Stuarts Draft (4-16) at No. 1 Clarke (19-5).
For full schedules, rosters and standings — check out the Bull Run District website.
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Luray girls only local team to advance to Bull Run semifinals on Wednesday
Seniors make the most of Senior Night as Bulldogs knock-off Rams, 54-43, in home finale
Panthers sweep Bulldogs in district doubleheader
Luray drops close one to Clarke, 44-42, in overtime
Bulldogs, Panthers split first rivalry matchup
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