By Tommy Keeler Jr.
QUICKSBURG -- Emily Jordan wanted the ball in her hands.
As the critical moments were winding down in the fourth quarter, the Stonewall Jackson sophomore was more than happy to let Central foul her and send her to the free-throw line. Jordan knocked down 12 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter to give the Generals a 54-48 win over Central on Saturday in nondistrict girls basketball action.
"I was nervous, because at the beginning of the season I was not looking too good at the free-throw line," Jordan said of her strong fourth quarter. "I just tried to remember to use my legs and follow through on my shot."
Jordan finished with a team-high 14 points, and 12 of them came in the final quarter.
Things didn't look good for the Generals in the first half as they trailed 29-18 with 1:40 left in the opening half.
Three baskets by Makaela Turner helped the Generals cut the lead to 29-24 at the half.
In the second half Stonewall Jackson switched its defense to a box-and-one to slow down Central's Katelyn Poston, who scored 14 of her 17 points in the first half.
The defense worked as the Falcons scored only five points in the third quarter.
"They did a box-and-one, but that shouldn't have affected us because other people need to step up," Central coach Mallory Skarupa said. "And we need to execute. That's the problem we don't execute. We have five individuals playing instead of a team."
The Generals (5-12, 2-7 Shenandoah) outscored the Falcons 16-5 in the third quarter to take a 40-34 lead. Stonewall Jackson's Hannah Stout hit three baskets to help lead the way.
Stonewall Jackson has struggled making shots for much of the season, and coach Jeff Burner said it was nice to see some shots fall for his squad.
"The kids hit shots tonight which always makes it better," Burner said. "When you hit shots it makes it a lot better."
Central's Cianne Fields hit a free throw to cut the lead to 40-35 with 6:26 left in the game. Just four seconds later Poston picked up her fourth foul, and Jordan began her fourth-quarter free-throw barrage.
The Generals scored all 14 of their points from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. Central (9-5, 4-4 Bull Run) could get no closer than five points the rest of the way. Every time they cut the lead to five, Jordan answered with a pair of free throws.
"She knocked them down tonight, and that's what we need her to do," Burner said of Jordan. "She's a good player, and she needs to step up and hit those, and she did tonight."
Central's Meredith Phillips had a game-high 18 points, including 14 in the second half. Phillips and Poston had 17 of their team's 19 second-half points.
The Falcons were 16 of 28 from the free-throw line for the game, but only 8 of 18 in the fourth quarter.
Skarupa said the team needs to bounce back, and start playing team basketball.
"We need to play as a team," Skarupa said. "The attitudes, the egos -- it needs to go out the door or we're not going to be successful."
Hannah Stout finished with 13 points, while Michaela Koontz added 10 points.
The win snapped the Generals' seven game losing streak, but Burner said the team has played well this season despite the losses.
"We've played good basketball all year, it's just that we haven't hit enough shots to win games," Burner said. "That's a frustrating thing for kids, because they're doing a lot of the things you want them to do, and then they make two or three mistakes and they're always huge because it's a tight game. Tonight we made the plays to win the game and that's always nice."
Contact assistant sports editor Tommy Keeler Jr. at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org