Chrane, Eagles girls trounce Rams 59-34

Posted: January 10, 2013

BERRYVILLE — When Clarke County sophomore Sydney Chrane exited the locker room following Wednesday night’s Bull Run District girls’ basketball game against rival Strasburg, Eagles coach Tim Lawrence couldn’t resist joking about her big game.

“She had 13 rebounds — she finally decided to rebound tonight,” said Lawrence with a big grin.

Chrane, a six-foot sophomore and the tallest player on the Eagles’ roster, responded with a sarcastic “thanks, coach” — and there’s no doubt Lawrence would welcome more dominating efforts like the one Chrane delivered against the Rams.

She scored a game-high 27 points along with her season-high in rebounds, helping Clarke County extend its winning streak to six games with a 59-34 district victory over Strasburg.

The Eagles (11-2, 5-1) already have two more victories than last season’s team (that finished 9-14), and Lawrence said his team can have a special season if it continues to work as hard as it has thus far.

“I’ve been pleased with the intensity level and more than anything else I’ve been pleased with the focus level in practice,” Lawrence said. “They’ve really sacrificed a lot for one another and worked extremely hard. I think it’s paying dividends.”

The Eagles’ 59 points was just six shy of their season-best of 65 in last Friday’s district win over Manassas Park, and Clarke’s trademark defense has helped the team put up points all season long.

Clarke has scored more than 50 points in seven of its 13 games and more than 45 in all but one.

The Eagles’ pressure defense created plenty of turnovers that led to fast-break opportunities and high-percentage looks for both Chrane and 5-foot-10 sophomore Anna Blue Catlett, who scored 15 points and had six rebounds and three assists,

Chrane helped the Eagles take control of the contest early, scoring eight points in Clarke’s 14-0 run to start the game.

Strasburg finally ended the run when sophomore Emily Melnikoff knocked down a jumper with 1:35 left, but the Eagles held a commanding 16-3 advantage at the end of the quarter.

Chrane, who shot 11 for 18 from the field and 5 for 5 from the free-throw line, outscored Strasburg (2-11, 2-4) in both the first and second quarters, adding nine in the second to stretch Clarke County’s lead to 31-10 at the half.

“We put in some new press breaks and me and Anna Blue were running well off that,” said Chrane, who scored a season-high 31 in a season-opening win over Handley. “We were just all playing really hard on defense and our whole team stepped up tonight.

“We knew we kind of had a size advantage on them so we knew we could hammer it down in the post. So whenever we could, we tried to get the ball to me or Anna Blue.”

Clarke’s defense forced Strasburg to commit 10 first-half turnovers, and the Rams shot just 3 for 22 (14 percent) from the field in the first half.

“This game’s about finishing, and Chrane and Catlett — when they catch the ball in the paint they finish,” said Joel Morgan, whose team lost its fifth in a row. “It’s been our problem a good bit of the year, and we just don’t finish very well when we get our opportunities. But [Clarke’s] a good team.”

Clarke County led by as many as 28 midway through the third quarter, but Strasburg’s young team (with only one senior on a 10-player roster) battled back a bit to close the third.

Kenzy McKelvey hit a 3-pointer and then knocked down three free throws after being fouled while attempting another three, and Melnikoff knocked down a jumper to cap a 12-1 run by the Rams that cut Clarke’s lead to 42-25 with 2:00 left.

The Rams’ run cut the deficit to 17 but Clarke made sure Strasburg never got closer than that the rest of the way.

Chrane and Catlett combined for nine points in the Eagles’ 11-0 run to start the fourth that staked Clarke to its largest lead with a 57-27 advantage with 4:00 left.

Strasburg shot just 28 percent (13 of 47) from the field. The Rams outscored Clarke 17-15 when the Eagles went to more of a half-court defense in the third quarter, but Morgan said his team didn’t knock down enough looks early in the game to stay with the Eagles in the first half.

“If we could have made a few shots in the paint that we were missing — that gives you energy — and that’s what we needed,” Morgan said. “When you don’t get that that makes it tough, but give [Clarke] credit. That’s a good team and they put a lot of pressure on you and generate some of those problems for you.”

Freshman Kelsey Jenkins led Strasburg with nine points, and Melnikoff added eight.

— Contact Robert Stocks at rstocks@winchesterstar.com

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