Panthers overcome surge from Generals

QUICKSBURG — For a little over three minutes in the third period, Stonewall Jackson played exactly the way it wanted to. The Generals used a big run to take the lead against Page County, but the Panthers responded and never looked back.

Page County pulled away in the fourth period for a 58-42 Shenandoah District boys basketball victory over Stonewall Jackson on Tuesday night.

“We played with great intensity,” Stonewall Jackson coach Patrick Smoot said of his team’s third-period run. “We had great effort and things went well. When you score and play good offense it leads to good defense, because you get excited. We just got to learn to hold that excitement and keep it and use it.”

Page County took a 34-23 lead with 6:23 left in the third period on a layup by Jacob McKay.

The Generals then started a 12-0 run. Stonewall Jackson senior guard Ryan Smith drained a 3-pointer to get things started, and converted a conventional three-point play with 2:37 left in the third to give the Generals a 35-34 lead.

Smith scored eight of his game-high 20 points during the spurt, which had the team playing with lots of energy and enthusiasm. The Generals caused five turnovers during the stretch and had four rebounds, twice as many as they had the entire first period.

The Panthers (15-7, 9-5 Shenandoah) responded by scoring the next nine points, including four from McKay to take a 43-35 lead with 7:22 left in the game.

“They showed a lot of poise tonight,” Page County coach Mike Purdham said. “Stonewall made that run and took the lead, and they never really flinched, never really blinked. I thought they had confidence in each other to pull it out.”

A 3-pointer by Ryan Summers cut the lead to 43-38 with 7:02 left, but the Panthers answered with a 13-3 run to pull away.

After the solid stretch of play from the Generals in the third period, Stonewall Jackson made only two more baskets, turned the ball over seven times, and went more than six minutes without a rebound.

“It’s the same story, different game,” Smoot said. “We have great effort at times and we’re just very inconsistent, still something that hasn’t came along as well as we thought or as well as we hoped. But there’s still those spurts that show you how good we can be, and that’s the frustrating part because we’re right there. We just have to figure out how to do it for a full game.”

The Generals (1-18, 1-12 Shenandoah) led early, as Smith gave the team a big boost. He scored the Generals’ first eight points on Senior Night to give Stonewall Jackson an early 8-5 lead.

“Ryan is a great shooter. He’s a good basketball player,” Smoot said. “He came out here, and of course, it’s his Senior Night and he wants to perform well and he did that. We should have matched his intensity and really went after them.”

The Panthers used a 12-2 run to close out the period, aided by six Stonewall Jackson turnovers. The Generals were able to cut the lead to 18-14 on a basket by Smith with 6:49 left in the first half.

Page County used an 8-2 run to build a 10-point lead, and led 30-21 at the half.

McKay led the Panthers with 15 points, while Bradley Dovel had 11. The Panthers will either be the No. 3 seed or the No. 4 seed in next week’s Conference 35 tournament.

“We’ve just got to keep momentum,” Purdham said. “I think we’ve played well all year long. There’s been some minutes here or there that we’ve had letdowns, but I think overall we’ve been pretty consistent. I don’t know who we play, and I don’t mean any disrespect here, but we really don’t care who we play as long as we worry about what we can do, we can control — and that’s all we can do.”

The Generals will be the No. 7 seed in the Conference 35 tournament and will play at either Luray or Strasburg in the quarterfinals on Monday. The Generals finish their regular season today against East Rockingham.

“We just got to keep pushing,” Smoot said. “We said it the other day in practice, any time this team could click, and that’s the great thing about basketball whether you’re 20-0 or 0-20. The conference is a great opportunity for us, so that’s what we’re hoping for.”

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