By Brad Fauber
QUICKSBURG -- Stonewall Jackson was right in the game at halftime of the Generals' match-up with Shenandoah District foe Stuarts Draft on Tuesday night, trailing the Cougars by eight after two periods.
But Stuarts Draft's offense, which uses a frenetic pace and a lot of 3-point shooting, could only be contained for so long. The Cougars erupted for 70 points in the second half en route to a 109-56 blowout over Stonewall Jackson.
"Give them credit, they shot the ball well, but we didn't do what we needed," Generals coach Patrick Smoot said. "I don't care where they shot them from, we need to contest. We didn't play great defense on the ball ... we got lazy."
Stuarts Draft (3-8, 3-3 Shenandoah) struggled to knock down shots in the first half, connecting on just 11 of 36 (30.6 percent) of field goals, including 4 of 19 (21.1 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc.
The second half was a much different story for the Cougars, as they hit 22 of 39 (56.4 percent) from the field in the second half. That mark also included an 11-for-23 (47.8 percent) mark from 3-point territory. Stuarts Draft finished the game with a 44-percent effort from the field.
"Basketball is a game of runs, but especially in the system we play, there's more runs than usual," Cougars coach Mike Gale said. "It's one of those things where you get confident, and I'm sure Stonewall wore down a little bit in the second half, which we're hoping to do to teams."
Both teams struggled for points in the first period. Stonewall Jackson (5-6, 3-3 Shenandoah) took an early 4-1 lead after a layup in transition by senior Trey Alger before Stuarts Draft eventually tied the game at 6-all on a free throw by junior Zach Sauder with 4:07 to play in the quarter.
The Cougars took an 18-15 lead at the end of the first period, and opened the second quarter on a 7-1 run to extend the lead to 25-16 with six minutes to play in the half.
Stuarts Draft took a 34-24 lead on a 3-pointer by senior Chris Knecht with three minutes remaining, and took a 39-31 lead into intermission.
Stonewall Jackson turned the ball over 17 times in the first half, but Smoot said the Generals did a good job breaking the full-court zone press that Stuarts Draft used for the entirety of the game.
"Their defense is designed to force turnovers in the backcourt and to make you speed up your passes," Smoot said. "I felt in the first half why we were close was that we continued to break it, we just missed those shots. In the second half, we forgot what got us there."
Turnovers and second-chance points fueled Stuarts Draft early in the second half, as the Cougars scored on their first 13 possessions in the third period. The hot-shooting helped the Cougars to a 67-39 lead with 3:04 left in the quarter. Twelve of Stuarts Draft's points during the run came on second-chance opportunities.
The Generals were outscored 33-14 in the third period, and 37-11 in the fourth. Stonewall Jackson turned the ball over 34 times total in the game, compared to just 14 total turnovers by Stuarts Draft.
The Generals, who shot 22-of-62 (35.5 percent) from the floor, were led by junior Colton Harlow's 17 points. Junior Corey Polk added 10 points for Stonewall Jackson.
Jamal Simpson's 26 points led the Cougars. Simpson scored 23 of his points in the second half and was 7 for 10 from beyond the 3-point arc. Knecht added 16 points and Nic Johnson had 13 for Stuarts Draft.
"It is frustrating ... you know that you're there and then you're not. An offense like that can exploit you pretty quick if you don't do what you're supposed to," Smoot said. "We shouldn't have backed down, and we did."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com