By Jeff Nations
QUICKSBURG -- Stonewall Jackson's girls basketball team woke up for a stretch in the second quarter of Tuesday's Shenandoah District home matchup against Buffalo Gap.
The Generals' Emily Jordan followed a made free throw by teammate Jayme Kokkonen with back-to-back 3-pointers to pull their team back within eight points in the second quarter. Other than that brief spark, though, Stonewall Jackson simply didn't mount much of a challenge to the Bison in a 63-22 loss.
"It's very, very frustrating as a coach," Generals coach Jeff Burner said. "I mean, we played incredible on Friday night against East Rock. We were right in that game the whole way, and we're battling and doing everything we want to do. And then tonight, you don't even show up."
Burner was hoping Stonewall Jackson (0-9, 0-4 Shenandoah) might carry over some momentum from that 49-31 loss to perennially strong East Rockingham. Neither team showed much life early until the Bison's Destiny Harper drilled a 3-pointer with 1:52 left in the first quarter to put her team up 7-4. Buffalo Gap never trailed again, and Harper was a major reason why. The sophomore guard finished with a game-high 22 points, including five 3-pointers.
"They have a lot of kids who can score," Burner said. "Their young kids have just improved so much. They have really, really worked to get better."
Stonewall's comeback came midway through the second quarter. Down 19-4, Kokkonen's free throw and Jordan's two treys cut that deficit down to 19-11 with 2:38 left in the first half.
Harper answered by driving for a basket in the lane, and teammate Abby Erskine sank a baseline jumper to help push the lead back out to 25-12 at halftime.
Buffalo Gap (6-4, 2-2 Shenandoah) buried Stonewall in the third quarter with a flurry of 3-pointers. Harper had a pair, and senior Samantha Savage got 12 of her 14 third-quarter points with four treys in the span. Savage finished with 20 points and five 3-pointers.
Jayme Kokkonen had all six points for the Generals in the quarter, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Bison steadily pulled away. Kokkonen tied Jordan for team-high scoring honors with eight points.
"We were certainly trying to get her the ball," Burner said. "In the first half, she missed some ducks. And then in the second half, I thought she started getting in there and finishing. That's what we need her to do."
Kokkonen said Burner has stressed that the Generals need to get mentally tougher to compete this season. It's been there at times, and absent others.
"We'll be fine," Kokkonen said. "We still have a lot of learning to do as a team, but it's just staying together and playing tough."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>