By Tommy Keeler Jr.
Stonewall Jackson senior Michaela Koontz and her teammates are in a different position this season. After losing the bulk of their scoring from last year, Koontz and her teammates are now having to step up on the offensive end to help the Generals win games.
Koontz did her part on Tuesday night as she helped lead the Generals to a 52-47 non-district victory over Strasburg.
The Generals lost Ashlie Clar, Cassie Conley and Keyana Phelps, more than 80 percent of their scoring from last season, to graduation leaving a big void to fill.
"It's so much different," Koontz said. "I'm always used to kicking out to them. It's just a big adjustment. I think we're doing good with it, getting better every day."
Koontz finished with a team-high and career-high 15 points to lead the Generals. The Generals start two point guards -- the 5-foot-1 Koontz and 4-11 Emily Jordan -- and whenever the Generals needed a play in the second half the pair responded.
"I thought down the stretch they were both really steady, which helped us a lot," Stonewall Jackson coach Jeff Burner said. "They were telling people where to go and handling the ball. That's a big positive."
It was the Generals' inside game that did the damage in the first half as post players Hannah Stout and Erin Goodier combined for 11 points to help give Stonewall Jackson (1-1) a 25-14 halftime lead.
Strasburg (0-1) responded in the third quarter. The Rams used a balanced attack to cut the lead to 30-25 with 2:45 left in the third quarter. Strasburg's Katie Dofermire caused problems inside and finished with a game-high 16 points, while Kenzy McKelvey knocked down several 3-pointers from the outside.
"I'm proud of the kids, that we did finally start competing out on the floor," Strasburg coach Joel Morgan said. "Really, what it took was just to hit a couple shots. And they were just sagging off of us, and somebody's gotta hit a perimeter shot."
Koontz responded with several big plays. She scored off a rebound under the basket, then made a nice pass to Stout on the next possession for a layup.
Koontz finished off the quarter by knocking down two free throws to give the Generals a 38-30 lead heading into the final quarter.
The Rams made several runs in the fourth quarter, but could get no closer than four points.
A basket by Strasburg's Marissa Doman cut the lead to 47-43 with 1:14 left. Jordan made two free throws, and then Koontz sealed the win as she intercepted a pass and made a free throw to extend the lead to 50-43 with 43 seconds left.
"I've been working on that more," Koontz said of her ability to step into passing lanes for steals. "I've been trying to read the person bringing the ball up, seeing where they're looking."
The Rams had only eight players, as they had three players out with injury or illness.
It was the season opener for the Rams, and Morgan said he saw some bright spots for the squad, which only has one senior.
"They came out and just started pounding our post players inside and we did not respond," Morgan said. "We just played so soft for a quarter and a half that we dug ourselves such a huge hole. But I am proud of how we did kind of bounce back and compete better. That's at least a positive going forward."
Jordan added 10 points for the Generals, who lost their opener to James Wood on Monday.
Koontz said she felt having a game already under their belts helped them against the Rams.
"Getting all the jitters out [helped]," Koontz said. "We were able to just focus on this game and make up for the mistakes we made last game.
"I think we have a lot of potential on our team. We just have to keep working at it."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org