Bulldogs move to 6-0 after dominating East Rock, 66-26

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LHS mascot-Bulldog

By Randy Arrington

LURAY, Dec. 22 — The Bulldogs are for real…and they are much more than one standout senior.

While some have questioned if too much emphasis was being put on Shepherd University signee Emilee Weakley, Luray head coach Joe Lucas has developed a balanced team in the 2021-22 season that is extremely sound in the fundamentals and arguably has more depth than the last two squads that ended up in the state title game.

While the Bulldogs are unquestionably better with Weakley on the court, they don’t fall off as much as some might think without her. Junior Jaidyn McClung, All-Region “Player of the Year” in volleyball this fall, picks up right where Brynlee Burrill left off from last season during Luray’s first-ever run to a state title. Burrill is now at Roanoke College, where the freshman still sees some minutes among an experienced, senior-laden team.

Two years ago, when Luray lost a tough game to Gate City in the 2A championship at VCU’s Siegel Center, Coach Lucas had a number of sophomores on the roster. Now, those same players are seniors with three years of experience under the same coach. Along with Weakley, seniors Amber Tharpe and Averie Alger, as well as Mt. Carmel-transfer Lexie Vile, have developed into much better players.

As an example of executing fundamentals — a mentality that begins in practice — on Tuesday night, Tharpe at 5’4″ successfully boxed out East Rockingham’s 6’1″ freshman center Haley Lucas and grabbed more than her share of rebounds. Luray’s stifling defense held the Eagles to only two points in the first eight minutes and 11 for the first half.

East Rock has struggled this season with only one win over Stuarts Draft, and their woes wouldn’t change Tuesday night on the road against a Top 5 team in the state.

Despite shooting less than 25 percent from the floor in the opening frame, Luray jumped out to an 18-2 lead in the first quarter. The Bulldogs extended their margin to 30 points by the half, taking a 41-11 lead into the locker room. By the fourth quarter, Coach Lucas pulled Weakley and substituted freely. The clock only stopped for foul shots.

Luray closed out the game with a 40-point Bull Run District win, 66-26, after only shooting about 38 percent from the floor on the night. However, 11 of the 13 Bulldogs on the roster put up points in the game. Weakley lead the way once again with 28, while McClung posted nine and both Tharpe and Vile had five.

East Rock was lead by sophomore Alexis Kisling with six points, while senior Sarah Smith and junior Ashlyn Herring added four.

Last Tuesday night, Luray captured a 70-38 win over a solid 1A Rappahannock team. Weakley posted 34 points and 12 rebounds in the win, while sophomore Maggie Foltz added 10 points. Last Friday night’s game at Clarke County has been postponed to Monday, Jan. 17 due to COVID protocols related to the Clarke team.

Luray remains undefeated heading into the holiday break with half of their wins recorded over 3A schools. The Bulldogs are currently one of five undefeated teams in the 2A ranks, along with the Knights of Buckingham, who they could meet up with in Region B postseason action. It may be a little early to start talking repeat, but with a #3 state ranking, the questions some may have had coming into the season seemed to be answered and there are few that doubt Luray will go deep into the playoffs.

Next up, the Bulldogs (6-0) will enjoy the Christmas break before heading to a tournament at Spotswood High School on Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 29-30. The Eagles (1-7) will host Central this Thursday, Dec. 23.

•••

The PVN Sports broadcast crew selected

Emilee Weakley

as the Blue Ridge Bank “Player of the Game“.

Weakley continues to lead the Bulldogs (6-0) in scoring and put up 28 points in a dominating 66-26 victory over Bull Run District rival East Rockingham on Tuesday night.

For full schedules, rosters and standings — check out the Bull Run District website.

•••

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