Mason’s 21 points leads Page over Bull Run’s top team on the road
STRASBURG, Feb. 5 — Is Page County the best team in the Bull Run? While many can’t argue that Strasburg’s Macy Smith is still the reigning top player in the region, the Panthers are now in the same conversation with the area’s top team after handing the Rams their first district loss of the season, 55-51, on Monday night in Strasburg.
In the last two seasons, the Rams have become a tough rival for the Panthers, who have been nipping at their heels but always seeming to be a step behind the region’s best player and the region’s reigning champ. It was Strasburg that knocked Page out of the Region 2B tournament last season, and left the Panthers just one win away from a trip to the state tournament.
When the two teams met in Page County on Jan. 12, the Panthers played evenly with the Rams through three quarters. However, a big deficit in the first quarter (down 18-9) proved to be the difference in the game. Strasburg took the district win 52-41.
Until Monday night, Strasburg had not lost a Bull Run matchup this season. The Rams were 12-0 in the district and 18-2 overall. Their only losses came at the hands of Buffalo Gap and Class 3 East Rockingham way back in December. Coming into Monday’s matchup, the Rams had won 10 in-a-row.
Strasburg started off Monday’s game the same way they did on the road Jan. 12 at Page. The Rams jumped out to a 16-8 lead after the Panthers only hit one shot from the field in the final six minutes of the opening frame. Smith had 10 points in the first eight minutes. If it hadn’t been for a three-pointer at the buzzer by senior Faith Mason, it would have started even worse for the Panthers.
However, Page County flipped the script in the second quarter and outscored the home team 16-8 — resulting in a 24-24 tie at halftime. Once again Mason lead the way for the comeback, with eight points in the period. The senior guard hit two three-pointers, including another at the buzzer to tie the game and end the half.
Page again dominated in the third quarter, 17-9. Five different Panthers contributed to building an eight-point lead, 41-33, heading into the final frame. The lead could have been more, but up to that point the Panthers were only shooting 40 percent from the free throw line (4-of-10) through three quarters. That would change in the fourth, and the improved shooting at the charity stripe would prove to be the key to holding off a Strasburg comeback.
After going scoreless in the second and only putting up four points in the third, the Rams’ all-time leading scorer, Smith, came up with six points in the fourth to finish with a team-high 20 points. Junior Addison Morgan recorded six of her 11 points on the night in the final period. It was Morgan that would hit a basket with just under two minutes to play that brought Strasburg within one at 45-44. Morgan would then hit a basket and a free throw to keep the Rams within two at 49-47, with :39.2 left on the clock.
As Strasburg began to foul in the final minute, once again it was the sure shooting of Mason that sealed it for Page County. The senior went 6-for-6 at the line in the final 36 seconds. Mason finished the night with a game-high 21 points, followed by senior Adryn Martin with 11.
Both teams shot about 44 percent from the floor (Strasburg 23-54/Page 18-41). The Panthers went 55 percent from the line, while the Rams only hit 38 percent from the stripe. However, the Rams only went to the line eight times all night, while Page shot 22 free throws. Each team had one quarter that brought their field goal average down, as Page went 3-for-14 in the first, and Strasburg went 4-for-17 in the third.
Despite the big win, the Panthers committed 13 turnovers during the game, compared to only five for the Rams.
With the win, Page County moves to 10-3 in the Bull Run (second place) and 14-8 overall. The Panthers close out the regular season on Friday night, as they travel to cross-county rival Luray (4-8, 6-14) for a 6 p.m. tip-off. Two games ahead of Central (8-4), the Panthers have a lock on the No. 2 seed in next week’s Bull Run District Tournament, which begins Monday, Feb. 12.
With the loss, Strasburg falls to 12-1 in the district and 18-3 overall. The reigning Region 2B champs close out the regular season at Central on Friday night with a 6 p.m. tip-off. The Rams are already slated to host No. 8 seed Mt. View (0-12, 0-20) in the first round of the Bull Run District Tournament on Feb. 12.
For schedules, rosters and results, check the Bull Run District website.