Funkhouser’s free throws lift Generals past Panthers
QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson had been struggling from the free-throw line most of the night. But with the game on the line, LuLu Funkhouser knew she needed to come through for the team – and the junior point guard did.
Funkhouser made several clutch free throws down the stretch to help lift the Generals to a 45-42 non-district victory over Rappahannock County in girls basketball action Tuesday. It was the season-opener for both teams.
“I was shaking like a leaf, and I guess all the practice pays off,” Funkhouser said.
The Panthers had cut a seven-point halftime lead to just one point midway through the fourth period, on back-to-back 3-pointers by Missy Phillips.
Stonewall Jackson sophomore Emily Dodson scored inside the paint to extend the lead to 41-38 with 5:05 left in the game.
A driving layup by Rappahannock County’s Kayla Robey cut the lead to 41-40 with 4:29 left in the game. It would be the last made basket of the game.
The score stayed 41-40 for four minutes of the game, including 12 missed baskets and four missed free throws.
Funkhouser stepped up and delivered at the line in three consecutive trips. An intentional foul was called on the first trip and she made 1 of 2 to extend the lead to 42-40 with 28 seconds left. Just eight seconds later she was fouled again and made both to push the lead to 44-40.
Funkhouser said it felt good once she saw the shots go down.
“I was pumped, but I just knew I had to keep my head because there was more to come,” Funkhouser said.
There was more to come. After Rappahannock County’s Deana Abdullah made two free throws with 6.9 seconds left, Funkhouser was fouled again and made one of two for a 45-42 lead with just 4.3 seconds left. A desperation heave by Robey at the end was off the mark to secure the victory.
“I think we worked hard,” Funkhouser said. “We played as a team, and we got the job done. I think we definitely could have done better, but that’s what the next game’s for.”
The game was tied at 12 after the opening period, but the Generals came alive in the second quarter on both offense and defense.
Dodson scored eight points during a four-minute stretch in the second period to help give the Generals a 21-14 lead.
“Pretty much (Stonewall Jackson) coach (Jeff Burner) said go to the boards every time you can. Shoot every time you can. Look to score first,” Dodson said. “So I just thought to myself, ‘Am I open? Can I shoot? Am I going to be a good asset to the team scoring wise?'”
Stonewall Jackson’s Sara Streett scored the next three points at the free-throw line to push the lead to 24-14. The Generals held the Panthers to only two made baskets and forced nine turnovers in the period, including four steals by J.J. Dellinger.
Burner said he wanted the Generals to do more of the same in the third period, but instead the Panthers responded.
Stonewall Jackson made only three baskets in the third period, and the Panthers clawed their way back in the game and took a 32-31 lead into the final period.
“I think we’re really trying to establish a mindset that I don’t care about the score. I want to try to play our best basketball regardless of what the score is,” Burner said. “Then winning and losing takes care of itself. I don’t really get caught up into that. So that’s what I really wanted to focus on.”
Dodson scored in the first minute of the third period and baskets by Funkhouser and Streett helped push the lead to 37-32, before the Panthers made another rally.
Dodson had 16 points and seven rebounds, while Funkhouser had 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Generals. Street added 10 points and Dellinger had eight points, five steals and two assists.
The Generals have a lot back from last year’s team and the players are optimistic about the season.
“It feels great,” Funkhouser said of winning the first game. “We have two more games this week, and we just have to keep our head. We can’t let it go to our head, and we got to play the game.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org.