Cold shooting costs Generals
QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson’s girls basketball team marched to a familiar tune Friday night.
As has been the case all season long for the Generals, they couldn’t get the shots to fall against visiting Riverheads. In fact, it took them nearly 20 minutes to hit their first field goal.
Those scoring woes were enough to doom Stonewall in a 42-17 Shenandoah District/Conference 44 loss on senior night, the Generals’ 13th defeat in their last 14 games.
“We just can’t score, man. We’ve been fighting it the whole year,” Generals coach Jeff Burner said. “We play real hard, we do all the things we want to do. We pass the ball, we’re patient and then we can’t make a shot. And I don’t care if it’s a layup, it’s a 10-footer, we just don’t make shots.”
Stonewall (6-15) went the entire first half without a field goal and finally broke the dry spell when sophomore LuLu Funkhouser hit a 3-pointer from the wing off a Kelsey Kokkonen assist with 4:15 left in the third period. By then the Generals trailed Riverheads (11-8) 23-7.
The Generals finished the night shooting just 14.3 percent (4 for 28) against the Gladiators’ 2-3 zone.
“We take pride in our defense,” Riverheads coach Tim Morris said. “We play through our defense. We always talk about (it), our goal when we get in it is try to hold teams in the 30s. If we can do that then we can possibly get an easy win.
“My hat’s off to the Stonewall girls,” he added. “They execute, they work hard, they pass the ball around – just some nights you don’t have shots fall.”
Perhaps no play epitomized Stonewall’s scoring troubles better than Funkhouser’s miss late in the second period, which came on a wide-open look from under the basket. The ball looked to be halfway through the cylinder before it lipped out.
“That’s been our season,” Burner said.
Upon the Burner’s urging during halftime, the Generals opened the third period by taking more shots from the perimeter. In addition to Funkhouser’s trey, junior Madison Long hit a 3-pointer to send Stonewall into the fourth period trailing 29-10.
“I was just telling kids you’ve gotta look for shots. You’ve gotta look to be aggressive,” Burner said. “And the problem is, I think as a group they have confidence in each other but none of them have confidence in themselves. And that’s a tough thing. None of them look for their shot first. None of them. So that’s the part that we’re struggling with.”
Two free throws and a 15-foot jumper by freshman Emily Dodson pulled Stonewall within 15 points with 6:30 to play, but the Gladiators countered with a 13-1 run – started by Macey Snyder’s 3-pointer – over a four-minute stretch, broken only by Funkhouser’s deep jumper with 1:55 left.
Led by juniors Snyder (11 points, three 3-pointers) and Blake Bartley, Riverheads hit 46.9 percent of their shots in the victory.
“We just talked about having some patience and looking for some different options instead of being methodical,” Morris said. “We wanted to do some different things and really coming out of halftime I thought that we made some changes and I thought we executed really good.”
Despite the lack of offense, Stonewall still found itself only trailing 5-1 at the end of the first period and 16-4 at halftime. Riverheads used runs of 7-0, 6-0 and 13-1 to blow the game open in the second half as the Generals went to some man-to-man full-court pressure.
“We’ll be in games but then you try something to get yourself going – it’s like when we tried to press there, that’s totally not what we do,” Burner said. “But when you can’t score you start trying to do some things that you can’t do. And then they’ll get a couple of transition baskets and the score gets open on you.”
Funkhouser led Stonewall with 5 points, four rebounds and three steals, while Dodson and Long chipped in 4 points apiece.
Stonewall returns to action Tuesday at Luray in the regular-season finale with a chance to lock up the fifth seed in the Conference 44 tournament with a victory, according to Burner.
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com