Generals honor Burner, improve to 3-0 with win over Madison
QUICKSBURG – The force was strong with Stonewall Jackson’s girls basketball team on Friday night.
The Generals used a strong defense to knock off Madison County 45-22 in Bull Run District action.
The team honored and surprised coach Jeff Burner, who is in his 25th year as coach, and his family before the game and wore t-shirts during the warm-ups that said “Darth Burner: 25 years of breaking boards … and taking names.”
Burner said the Darth Vader reference was a joke that started last year after one of his assistants, Leonard Veney, broke a clipboard while coaching a JV game.
“That was really cool to be able to celebrate him like that because we obviously love Burner,” Stonewall Jackson junior Emily Ball said. “He brings us all together for sure. He builds us up. He is very smart about the game and knows exactly what to say, how to teach us the best way.”
“The biggest thing about it is all the relationships you develop,” Burner said. “You get to know the kids on such a different level. You’re with them every day, you travel with them. I’ve benefited far more from it than I’ve probably given away.”
The Generals improved to 3-0 on the season and used a solid man-to-man defense to wear down the Mountaineers.
Stonewall Jackson led from start to finish. The Generals led 12-5 at the end of the first period and stretched the lead to as much as 11 in the second period.
The Mountaineers cut the lead to 24-17 on a free throw by Kara Price with 6:44 left in the game.
The Generals responded with a 10-0 run. The start of the run came after Sara Streett deflected a ball and started a fast break.
“That was really, really big and she made that play,” Burner said of Streett. “I don’t think Kelsey (Kokkonen) hit her free throws after that, but it seemed to get us going.”
On Stonewall Jackson’s next possession freshman Emily Dodson scored an inside bucket, and converted the three-point play with a free throw to extend the lead to 10.
“I spun around, and I was like ‘OK’ and I went up and I didn’t know if I got fouled or not,” Dodson said of the play. “It was kind of exciting to get a three-point play, because that’s only the second time I’ve ever had a three-point play. It was exciting.”
Ball capped off the run with two baskets in three possessions to push the lead to 34-17 with 4:06 remaining.
“I got in foul trouble in the first half. So I knew that I had to battle back just for my team, and kind of redeem myself for them,” Ball said.
Dodson led the Generals with 12 points. Cheyanne Green had seven points and eight rebounds for the Generals.
The Generals won only three games the last two years combined, and Ball said it’s been great to start the season off strong.
“I’m very proud of my team,” Ball said. “It’s really cool to go 3-0 this week. It’s something that we’re not used to, but we’re really, really excited about the season ahead of us. This is only the beginning.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org