Falcons overcome sluggish first half to trounce Generals

WOODSTOCK – Central girls basketball coach Bryan Scott expected the Falcons to be a little rusty in their first game since the start of Christmas break Wednesday night against visiting Stonewall Jackson. He got what he expected in the first half, and probably a little more than he bargained for.

The Falcons committed 18 fouls in the first two periods and had three starters with three fouls at halftime, which contributed largely to a slim 6-point halftime lead. But Central regrouped after the intermission and rolled to a 73-33 win over their county rivals, out-scoring the Generals 43-9 in the second half.

“We had the long break and we had two practices since our last game, so I knew we’d come out and probably be a little sluggish but I didn’t think it was gonna be that bad,” Scott said. “… Some of the calls didn’t quite go our way but you can’t ever always blame that. We’ve still gotta play. I told the girls at halftime we’ve gotta make an adjustment.”

Leading 30-24 at halftime with forwards Tamra Scott, Meredith Phillips and guard Cianne Fields missing most of the first half with foul trouble, the Falcons immediately seized control with a big run in the third period.

Central held the Generals without a field goal in the period while out-scoring Stonewall Jackson 22-4 in the frame.

“I thought we didn’t rise to the occasion, obviously,” Generals coach Jeff Burner said. “I’m not so sure there was a great difference between the two halves other than our effor.”

Falcons sophomore Ayanna Strother did most of the damage for Central in the third period, as she tallied 11 points while consistently getting loose in transition. Strother carried the bulk of the Falcons’ offense in the win, scoring a game-high 22 points.

“I’ve been on her,” Bryan Scott said. “Ayanna’s probably one of the better shooters on the team. She hasn’t been shooting the ball. … She played real good tonight. She leads the team in steals so it was just a matter of her getting a couple layups to fall and get that confidence, and that happened tonight.”

Stonewall went without a field goal in the second half until Emily Ball connected on a short turnaround jumper with 3:50 left to play. By then Central was up 63-31.

Central’s defense forced 37 turnovers – 23 in the second half – including 20 steals.

“We just made that adjustment to get back to playing defense. I think that’s what really set it off,” Bryan Scott said. “I told the girls, once we start playing defense we’re a hard to team to beat.”

In a sluggish first half hampered by fouls from both teams – there were 28 total fouls called in the first half – Central slowly built a 15-5 lead after one period. With three Central starters stuck on the bench with foul trouble, the Generals cut the deficit to one point twice in the second period – once on a LuLu Funkhouser jumper with 5:45 left in the frame and again on a pair of J.J. Dellinger free throws 90 seconds later.

But Strother scored 7 straight points as part of a Central run went on another run that created a small cushion going into halftime.

Stonewall made just 17 of 36 free throws in the loss.

“This is the first time I feel like we took a couple steps back,” Burner said.

Fields finished with 11 points for Central, while Brooklyn Pumphrey had 9 points and six rebounds and Tamra Scott 8 points, eight rebounds and five steals. Kendall Herbaugh had 6 points, 10 rebounds and four steals for the Falcons.

Dellinger led Stonewall with 9 points – all from the free-throw line – while Cheyanne Green had 7 points and 12 rebounds. Emily Dodson had 6 points and five boards for the Generals.

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