Free throws lift Generals to win
QUICKSBURG — Stonewall Jackson’s girls basketball team claimed just five field goals Wednesday night, but a giant-sized effort at the free-throw line carried the Generals to a 37-32 victory over Shenandoah District and Group 2A East Conference 35 Luray on Senior Night.
The Generals (2-9 Shenandoah, 3-13 overall) pulled within a game of the Bulldogs (3-10 in the district) in the race for sixth place in the Shenandoah. It was the fourth straight loss for the visitors, who are 7-13 overall.
Stonewall lost to this same team on the road 55-21 on Jan. 13 on the road.
But revenge was simply one aspect that was on the minds of the Generals, who improved their win total over 2013-14 by three and doubled their Shenandoah District victories of a year ago by two.
“The funny thing about it is that we aren’t usually that good of a free-throw shooting team,” Stonewall Jackson coach Jeff Burner said.
It helped that the home team, that played to a raucous crowd in their final home game, had the right people on the line.
Seniors Kayla Miller, Becca Funkhouser, Jayme Kokkonen, Madison Street and Emily Jordan (game-high 16 points) were playing for the final time on their home court. Junior Cheyenne Crigger (9) will transfer to Atlee High School for her final year. All were honored with their parents during pregame ceremonies.
Miller, Jordan and Crigger particularly carried the celebration through the 32-minute game.
Miller, who inbounded the ball to her teammates throughout a hectic second half, was good on one of her two foul shots; Jordan went 12-for-16 from the line and Crigger was true on 9 of 12 of her free throws.
“Truthfully, I don’t think about shooting free throws. I just know when it leaves my hand whether it’s good or not,” said Crigger.
In all, the Generals made 27-of-45 free throw attempts. The Bulldogs were good on 8-of-17 from the free-throw line.
“That and the defense, I’d have to say are the reasons we won tonight,” Burner said. “We weren’t so good rebounding the ball.”
Luray converted 10 field goals and out-rebounded Stonewall Jackson, 32-11.
Jordan’s ability to dribble the ball through the Bulldogs’ defense and hit free throws when needed proved to be the keys to the game.
“I just tried to keep finding my little friend, Emily, when I inbounded the ball,” Miller said.
Jordan was scoreless in a 39-21 loss at Riverheads on Tuesday.
“We shoot like six free throws at a time and three sets of six,” said Miller.
“We’ll do six, then run, then do six more, then run,” added Jordan.
“We do them around running. We do three sets of six and run in between,” added Burner.
The Generals knocked down just four field goals in the first half, but led 14-11 at intermission.
In a game where they trailed only twice, Stonewall expanded a four-point third quarter lead to nine points with 3:47 to go.
That came as a result of 1-of-2 free throws made by Miller for a 28-19 advantage. Luray backup point guard Courtney Dudley fouled Stonewall’s Miller. Dudley as one of two Bulldogs to foul out of the game. She was inserted for regular Michaela Nichols, who was out.
Dudley and 6-foot-1 center Meghan Seamon were disqualified due to personals.
Jordan made two free throws with 1:34 to go to keep the lead at nine, though Luray was able to whittle it to 35-31 with 1:03 to go on a coast-to-coast layup by Dudley.
But Crigger’s free throws with one minute showing iced the game for the Generals.
Luray got off six straight shots without making one, leading up to a final, meaningless effort at the foul line.
“I told them after the game I was very proud of their effort. I talked to them about a member of our team, Brittany Smith (2006-09) who gave me her best effort every time she was on the court,” Burner said. “That was the kind of effort we had tonight.”
“Tonight was special because it was Senior Night,” Crigger said. “We wanted this one really bad, especially after what they did to us earlier.”