Generals fall to Stuarts Draft

QUICKSBURG — Stonewall Jackson has been struggling early in the season, and on Thursday night the Generals ran into a buzz saw known as ‘the system.’

Stuarts Draft used its explosive offense to pull out a 113-84 Shenandoah District boys basketball win over the Generals.

On top of the Cougars taking a lot of shots and playing at a frantic pace, they were also able to control the boards and get a lot of second-chance points.

“We knew they could shoot,” Stonewall Jackson coach Patrick Smoot said. “In that offense they’re going to shoot multiple times, and you got to try to cut out second-chance points and we couldn’t do that. Rebounding, defense, getting on the floor — that’s not basketball skill. That’s just heart. That’s hustle. They out-hustled us. They out-worked us. It’s been the same thing for three games now.”

The Cougars (3-0) had four players out sick, and had to rotate players in and out even more than normal, but it didn’t seem to affect them at all.

Stuarts Draft raced out to an 11-0 lead, aided by a bevy of Stonewall Jackson turnovers. The Generals started out passive against Stuarts Draft’s full-court pressure and turned the ball over 10 times.

The Generals (0-3) went on a 9-3 run to cut the lead to 14-9, sparked by two layups from Derrick Smith.

The two teams traded mini-runs and the Generals trailed 28-15 after the opening period.

After giving up a basket to Stuarts Draft’s Jamal Simpson, the Generals used a 9-4 spurt to cut the lead to 34-26 with 5:39 left in the first half. Stonewall Jackson’s Ryan Smith scored six points during the run.

“We broke [the press], got what we wanted and then as soon as we would do something properly, we’d turn around and we would do something negative on the other end,” Smoot said. “You can’t do that. You’re going to have mistakes, that’s natural, but you can’t give one get one, give one get one. It doesn’t work like that.”

The Cougars went on another run and the Generals never recovered. Stuarts Draft used an 18-8 run to build the lead to 18 and led 60-41 at the half.

“It’s tough to play with 11 guys in our style,” Stuarts Draft coach Mike Gale said. “I think we did a nice job. … I thought overall we gave tremendous effort, and that’s one of the things we have to have every night.”

Smoot said the players are showing some fight, but just aren’t doing it for an entire game.

“We have the fight in us, but we’ve got to find it for 32 minutes,” Smoot said. “We’ve got to find it for a full game. If we can’t find that fight for 32 minutes we’re not going to win, because in our league, the teams we play, it’s a dogfight every night. And if you play your worst you’re going to get hammered.”

Simpson led the Cougars with 29 points, while Zach Cook had 21. The Cougars had five players in double figures. They made 13 3-pointers, and took advantage of 27 Stonewall Jackson turnovers.

Gale said it’s the fourth year his team has played this style of offense, and the players are comfortable in it. It was only the third game of the season for the Cougars, and Gale said they have a lot to work on.

“We’ve gotten off to a good start. There’s a lot of things to improve on,” Gale said. “I like where we are at this point. We have a lot of time to improve on things. Actually, we’re not in game condition yet. Hopefully we’ll get that after break.”

Kory Somers led the Generals with 21 points, while Nathan Miller added 18. Ian Pugh also had 10 for the Generals.

Smoot said the players need to gain some confidence to try and turn things around early in the season.

“I still have all the confidence in these guys,” Smoot said. “I think all of our coaching staff does. It’s just the fact that they’ve got to believe in themselves, and they haven’t figured that out yet. We’re a team without an identity, and we just haven’t got over that hump.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com