By Brad Fauber
QUICKSBURG -- Jeff Burner's concerns were realized on Monday night when Stonewall Jackson opened its girls basketball season against James Wood.
The Generals' head coach wasn't sure who would step up to the lead the offense this year after losing a lot of firepower from last season's team, and that answer remains unclear after Monday's contest.
Stonewall Jackson struggled all night to find the bottom of the net, hitting just 10 shots from the floor while shooting less than 20 percent from the field in a 48-34 loss to the visiting Colonels. Senior Hannah Stout (11 points) was the lone General to reach double-digit points.
"Scoring's my one thing that I'm worried about ... I don't know where we're going to get our points from," Burner said after the loss. "Tonight that sort of came true.
"We didn't hit shots ... and we're small, too. Sometimes it's difficult for us to find our shots, and we didn't execute some of the things that we wanted to do."
Despite the poor shooting performance, which included a 4-for-22 effort from the floor in the first half, the Generals (0-1) were able to hang around early in the game by getting to the free-throw line.
Eleven of Stonewall Jackson's 19 first-half points came at the line, although the Generals had plenty of opportunities for more -- they missed 10 free throws in the first half. The Generals finished the game 14 for 27 at the line.
Both teams struggled early on offense as Stonewall Jackson held just a 4-3 lead after the game's first six minutes. James Wood junior Brooke Nesselrodt knocked down a 3-pointer on the Colonels' first possession of the game, but the Colonels missed their next eight shots while turning the ball over seven times in the first six minutes.
James Wood (1-0) faired only slightly better than the Generals on offense, shooting less than 34 percent, but the Colonels held a decisive advantage on the offensive boards, which led to as many as three or four second-chance shots from in close.
"I thought we gave them way too many opportunities on the offensive boards," Burner said. "They had way too many offensive rebounds -- it just seemed like they were getting a lot of opportunities."
James Wood found itself in foul trouble very early as it put Stonewall Jackson in the bonus with 1:47 left in the first quarter. Colonels sophomore Morgan Duncan found herself with three fouls just five minutes into the game, and Nesselrodt recorded her fourth with 2:30 to play in the half.
Still, James Wood was able to avoid disaster thanks to a combination of poor free-throw shooting by the Generals and a stiff 2-3 zone defense.
James Wood freshman Keiana Brooks scored a pair of buckets late in the first half to put the Colonels up 18-13, but Stonewall Jackson sophomore Emily Jordan (8 points) knocked down six free throws over the final 1:17 of the second quarter to cut the Colonels' lead to 20-19 heading into halftime.
"I think halftime came at the perfect time and we were able to talk about some things that we needed to do," Colonels coach Rhonda Slider said. "We came out with a clean slate, and it was a much better second half."
Stonewall Jackson had a tough time cracking James Wood's zone defense in the third quarter, as the Generals managed just two points in the frame, which came on a baseline jumper by Stout with 7:18 left in the third.
James Wood used the scoring drought to slowly build its lead, and a long 3-pointer by junior Whitney Dick from the top of the arc at the buzzer gave the Colonels a 33-21 advantage to start the fourth quarter.
Dick led the Colonels with 12 points, and Brooks (11 points) and Nesselrodt (10 points) also reached double digits. Senior Erica Hepner added nine points and 14 rebounds for James Wood.
In addition to the poor shooting performance, the Generals made matters worse by turning the ball over 18 times on Monday.
"We're going to have to be the type of team that does not turn the ball over, limits the other team's chances and makes free throws," Burner said. "Tonight I didn't think we did any of those."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org