Dellinger emerging as scorer for Generals

J.J. Dellinger

QUICKSBURG — Stonewall Jackson girls basketball coach Jeff Burner wanted freshman J.J. Dellinger to shoot more all season. Finally, last week she did and the results were no surprise to Burner.

“She started shooting the ball and that’s what we’ve talked about all along,” Burner said. “She has the ability to score, and for us that’s definitely a high commodity right now.”

Dellinger came to life in a 39-36 loss to Central on Dec. 30, scoring 10 of her 13 points in the fourth quarter. She followed that up with 13 points, including three 3-pointers, in a 65-28 loss to East Rockingham on Jan. 2.

For her efforts, Dellinger earned The Northern Virginia Daily’s Female Athlete of the Week for the week of Dec. 28-Jan. 3.

With the Generals trailing Central 31-16 early in the the fourth period last week, Dellinger finally decided to take more shots and made them, including two 3-pointers.

“He kept telling me to shoot and I wasn’t so sure about it,” Dellinger said. “I started shooting and making them, and it kept leading on to more points.”

The Generals still came up a little short, but Dellinger said her fourth quarter gave her more confidence, which carried over to the East Rockingham game.

Dellinger said she’s been playing basketball since third grade, and she’s always been a shooting guard.

Burner said she’s always been a good scorer.

“She has good natural touch,” Burner said. “She’s had that for a long time. Ever since she started coming to camp as a little kid, she could make shots.”

Dellinger, who ran cross country in the fall and plans to play soccer in the spring, said she was a little surprised she made varsity as a freshman. She said it’s been an adjustment going from JV to varsity.

“There’s a lot more to it,” Dellinger said of the varsity level. “Girls are bigger and more skilled. It’s a lot faster pace.”

It’s helped that Dellinger isn’t the only freshman on the varsity squad. She is joined by classmates LuLu Funkhouser and Sara Street.

“She and LuLu are very, very tight and they’ve been there all along, and Sara we’ve got playing a big role for us, too,” Burner said. “I think that helps, having those other freshmen there. Then the fact that we’re playing a style where everybody’s rotating through I think helps a lot too, because everybody’s getting some playing time.”

The Generals are off to a 1-5 start, having played a very tough schedule. The Shenandoah District is extremely tough, which will make the wins difficult to come by.

Burner said he’s already seen improvement with his team from the start of the season.

“We are a lot better team. We’re playing a lot better,” Burner said. “We’re playing good teams, and with our district we play real good teams. I don’t know how many more wins that will translate into. We’re just trying to get better.”

Burner said he’s very happy that Dellinger’s confidence is growing and that will hopefully continue throughout the rest of the season.

“For most young kids, I think it’s a confidence thing when you first start doing this,” Burner said. “Hopefully she’ll get over that now, and she’ll keep looking for her shot. And maybe we’ll get some other kids doing that, too, that we want to.”

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