Stonewall boys still searching for consistency after home loss to Page

Stonewall's Nick Dotson fires a shot between a pair of Page County defenders in December. Dotson became the fifth player in school history to score 1,000 points, just one of the highlights of his 2017-18 season. Rich Cooley/Daily file

QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson High School’s boys basketball team took some strides on the court a year ago, but this season’s Generals are still searching for consistency under their new head coach following Monday night’s 68-56 loss to Page County at home.

Stonewall, which won 10 games last season and hosted a playoff game for the first time in numerous years, fell to 3-5 this season with Monday’s loss and is still searching for its first win in Shenandoah District play under first-year head coach Jim Sanders.

The Generals, who next travel to Stuarts Draft today, have lost four of their last five games, and all four of those losses have been to district foes.

“We’re still learning a lot of things, what it means to be consistent by what we’re doing, how we’re doing things,” Sanders said after the Page County game. “Just learning how to play ball, really.”

Monday’s loss highlighted the Generals’ struggles with what Sanders called “little things that we’ve talked about ad nauseum.” Stonewall raced out to a 10-point lead in the game’s first four minutes but lost nearly all of that cushion by the end of the first period, was out-rebounded 35-30 in the contest and fell victim to a barrage of 3-pointers from a Page County (3-4, 2-2 Shenandoah District) team that ended the night shooting 50 percent (23 of 43) from the floor.

Stonewall's Brendan Hoover dribbles around Page County's Trey Knight III after receiving back court pressure during their game Monday night in Quicksburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

“If you don’t do the little things, I think they come back to haunt you,” Sanders said. “You’ve gotta play some defense. We’re playing a little bit of (a different) defense, I guess, than what they’ve been accustomed to in the past. You’ve got responsibilities when you do that. And if you play defense you’ve gotta rebound, and we’ve struggled with that quite a bit.”

Page County enjoyed success on the offensive glass on Monday night – the Panthers finished with 13 second-chance points – but the Panthers’ real production came from the perimeter. Page connected on 12 of 27 3-pointers (44.4 percent) while attempting over half of their field goals from long range against Stonewall’s extended 2-1-2 zone.

Four Panthers combined for those 12 treys, and Chase Combs (17 points, eight rebounds) and Nathan Myers (16 points) hit four each to lead a quartet of double-figure scorers for Page County.

“We wanna work our way from the inside out,” Panthers head coach Russ Rodriguez said, “but in that 2-1-2 the deep corner’s really our opening. We knew that it would be, so we tried to exploit that. I thought early on we did a good job but then we tried to rely on it too much.”

Sanders said the Generals’ struggles on Monday to defend the perimeter – particularly in the corners, where the Panthers hit eight of their 12 threes – were reminiscent of the team’s 67-46 loss at Riverheads last Friday.

Stonewall's Logen Patton goes up for the ball with Page County's Trevor Williams during basketball action Monday night in Quicksburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

“That’s where those guys, I’ve mentioned before, we’ve gotta be extremely active down there on that baseline. They’ve gotta really get out there. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that many (3-pointers) in the last few games being hit against me before,” Sanders said.

“They’ve gotta understand that the way we’re playing (defense) that that’s gonna be a shot that might be available and you’ve gotta get there and try to defend it some way or another,” he added.

Stonewall, led by Nick Dotson’s 18 points and Brendan Hoover’s 14, shot just 33.3 percent (21 of 63) from the field and couldn’t keep pace.

After trailing by as many as 14 points in the fourth period, the Generals did rally to trim the deficit to 55-50 with 4:35 remaining with a 9-0 run that included buckets by Tucker Dorman, Calvin Smith, Dotson and Logen Patton. Hoover’s 3-pointer pulled Stonewall within four 90 seconds later but the Generals would get no closer.

The way the Panthers closed out Monday’s game wasn’t textbook (they committed 11 turnovers in the fourth period) but Stonewall, like Page County, is still trying to figure out how to win in the early stages of the season.

Stonewall's Blake McCourt prepares to go up under the basket to score as Page County's Freddy Stedham defends during basketball action Monday night in Quicksburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

“If you have not had a real consistent history of doing it here the last several years, it’s hard for it to all the sudden just appear and happen,” Sanders said of finding ways to win. “(Page County has) had success over the years and so they’ve got kids who have been accustomed to that, seen that, been a part of it. We’re still trying to learn for ourselves, really.

“It’s disappointing, frustrating when we come up on the short end but at the same time, I’m not gonna fall on them. I’m just gonna go back to work. … That’s what we’re looking for out of the guys.”

Stonewall's Drew Binion snares a rebound while Page County's Tevor Williams defends during Monday night action in Quicksburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

Stonewall Jackson coach Jim Sanders chats with Drew Binion, center, nd Nicholas Pagon, left, during their game Monday night against Page County. Rich Cooley/Daily