Central holds off rival Stonewall

QUICKSBURG — Central’s girls basketball team didn’t do itself any favors against Stonewall Jackson on Tuesday night.

The Falcons held a seemingly comfortable 15-point lead early in the fourth period against their county rivals, but as soon as the Generals began making a comeback push, Central got careless with the ball.

Central turned the ball over nine times in the fourth period, but was able to survive Stonewall’s 20-point outburst in the frame to escape with a 39-36 road win.

“The fourth quarter, I think we lost ourselves a little bit,” Falcons sophomore Tamra Scott said. “We definitely didn’t stop battling, that was a good thing. I think it was when [Generals freshman J.J. Dellinger] chucked up that 3, that’s when we kind of got down and were like, ‘Oh God, what’s going on?’ I think we came together and picked it back up.”

Dellinger’s timely shooting in the final frame provided a huge boost to the Generals, who didn’t make a field goal in the second and third periods. Dellinger finished with a career-high 13 points, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter.

Stonewall Jackson (1-4) trailed 31-16 after Scott opened the fourth with a bucket inside, but Generals senior Jayme Kokkonen (12 points) ended Stonewall’s field goal drought when she hit three straight shots as part of a 7-0 Generals run.

Dellinger further spurred the Generals on when she hit a 3-pointer from the wing to cut Central’s (7-2) lead to seven points, and Olivia Marshall’s two made free throws pulled Stonewall within 33-28 with 4:28 to play.

“I think the biggest thing was we just played with some confidence,” Generals head coach Jeff Burner said. “[Dellinger] hit some shots and she made some nice hustle plays, too, on some offensive stickbacks. And then I thought Jayme played much better in the fourth quarter, too.”

Central pushed its lead out to 39-32 following Scott’s fast-break layup with two minutes left, but Dellinger brought Stonewall right back with her second 3-pointer of the frame to pull the Generals within four points.

A free throw by Stonewall’s Kelsey Kokkonen cut the Falcons’ lead to 39-36 with 52 seconds left. A charging foul on Central gave the Generals an opportunity to tie after calling a timeout with 8 seconds remaining, but the Falcons’ defense locked down and Emily Jordan’s desperation shot from the wing was well off the mark.

“I’m proud of our resolve, I guess, to stick together until the end but we need to not put ourselves in that position,” Falcons head coach Mallory Skarupa said. “They scored 20 points in the fourth quarter. … When we want to play defense we can play some good defense. We need to want to for 32 minutes.

“Our turnovers have been atrocious all year,” added Skarupa, whose team committed three walks, two double dribbles and a carrying violation over the final six minutes of play. “… Ninety percent of our turnovers tonight were just us being silly. … We’re not a fundamentally sound team. We need to work on those things.”

Central took a 14-11 lead after one period of play and the Falcons were able to slowly increase the margin over the next two periods as Stonewall struggled to shoot the ball.

The Falcons thrived in the post on Tuesday night, as Scott (19 points, 11 rebounds) and freshman Ayanna Strother (12 points) combined to score all but eight of Central’s points.

“They were leaving that block open all night so we were taking advantage of that with Tamra down there and Ayanna made some nice moves to the bucket,” Skarupa said. “I’d like our offense to be a little more spread out, but we’re going to take what you give us. They gave us the block.”

Central shot 51.5 percent (17 for 33) from the field, while the Generals hit 25 percent (11 for 44) of their shots, including a 5 for 17 mark from beyond the 3-point arc.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com