By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
QUICKSBURG - Wilson Memorial center Dylan Hudson is one of those players who can give almost any defense fits, and Stonewall Jackson was no exception Wednesday.
The Hornets senior owned the paint through most of the game, scoring 19 points to lead Wilson to a convincing 51-39 road victory over the Generals.
"Our intensity tonight was much better than it has been so far this season," Stonewall Jackson coach Sophie Stout said. "We were more patient on offense, but we just couldn't control Hudson. He's a really experienced player."
The Hornets senior didn't take long to establish his dominance, scoring 11 first-quarter points and drawing fouls on whoever Stout sent out to cover him. By the end of the first eight minutes of play, Generals post player Dylan Dawson sported three fouls during his time covering Hudson.
"He's a really good player," Wilson Memorial coach Rodney Cullen said of Hudson. "He's been a starter for us since his freshman year, and he's developed into a very savvy player inside."
Stonewall didn't help itself by beginning the game cold from the field. The Generals managed just three field goals in the first quarter, the first one coming with just 1:42 left in the period on a short jumper by Russell Hill.
Before Hill's bucket, Stonewall went 0-for-6 from the field and committed seven first-period turnovers against the Hornets' press.
"That's been our Achilles' heel so far this year," Stout said. "We get down early by 16 or 17 points, and it's hard to come back from that. We need to start the game with as much intensity as we give in the second half."
With Wilson clicking on all cylinders and the Generals unable to get their offense going, the Hornets headed into the second quarter with a 16-6 lead.
"I was really pleased with the way we played in the first half," Cullen said. "I wasn't so pleased with how we played in the second half. We seemed to be standing around a lot on defense and we didn't play with the same intensity on offense that we did in the first two quarters."
Wilson's lapse was still eight minutes away, however, when the second quarter began, and Hornets forward Connery Swift used the period to prove that Hudson wasn't the only one who could get points for Wilson.
The Hornets sophomore scored seven of his nine points in the period, including the first five points of the quarter, which led to a 21-6 Wilson lead.
Things began to turn around for the Generals late in the first half, thanks to Hill. The Stonewall junior hit a 3-pointer and a jumper in the last minute of the first half to narrow Wilson's lead to 32-13 by halftime.
That proved to be the spark that got the Generals on track for a very respectable second half.
"That was two very big plays at the end of the half," Stout said. "Any time that you get something like that after half we were having, it's got to help."
Two things happened in the second half that spelled at least a partial recovery for the Generals. The Stonewall offense played with a lot more intensity and began to make shots, and the Hornets stopped pressing and fell back into a zone defense.
"We are a pressing team," Cullen said. "That's the way we play most of the time, but we have two games over the next two days and we didn't want to use up their legs."
With Wilson falling back into a zone, the Generals were able to nail a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter, and stayed even with the Hornets for the period.
Stout also started switching up her defensive calls and using a variety of players on Hudson.
"We were mixing things up in an effort to at least slow Hudson down," Stout said.
The strategy worked. Hudson, who had scored 15 points in the first half, was held to just four in the final two periods.
Hill led the Generals in scoring with 13 points. Despite having four fouls for most of the game, Dawson was able to contribute seven points for Stonewall.
Christian Miller also scored nine for Wilson.