Stonewall freshman Franklin adjusts quickly to varsity level

Stonewall's Kylene Franklin is fouled as she drives to the basket by Central's Sydney Putman on Nov. 29 in Quicksburg. Franklin, a freshman, leads the area in steals and field goal percentage this season. Rich Cooley/Daily

QUICKSBURG — Typically it takes a little time for freshmen to adjust to the varsity level. But Stonewall Jackson’s Kylene Franklin isn’t a typical freshman.

Franklin’s father Jerr, is the Stonewall Jackson wrestling coach. Since fifth grade Kylene Franklin would often come to the school while her father was coaching wrestling practice and she would work out with Stonewall’s girls basketball team.

“I just came on days when I didn’t have (middle school or JV) practice to practice with the varsity team,” Kylene Franklin said. “It was kind of nerve-wracking, because I didn’t know how to feel playing against girls that were way older than me.”

Stonewall Jackson girls basketball coach Jeff Burner said he definitely thinks that has helped ease her transition with the team this year.

Stonewall Jackson senior guard LuLu Funkhouser said the team enjoyed having her around, even when Franklin was in fifth grade.

“At first I’m not going to lie it was something to get used to – having an underclassmen who’s very good at your practice,” Funkhouser said. “But then we started getting used to her. And then you get comfortable with her, and you can joke around with her. And it just makes the practice more fun.”

Franklin, a point guard, leads the area in steals per game (2.7) and in field goal percentage (45.5). She is averaging 10.1 points per contest in leading the way for the Generals.

Burner said Franklin has added a lot to the team this season.

“She’s a really good athlete and then she’s pretty skilled, so that’s a nice combination any time you get it,” Burner said. “She handles the ball pretty well and she works so hard. She’s just a hard-nosed, hard-working kid. And she’s tough, and she’s a very driven person, too. She wants to be successful. She wants the team to be successful.”

With the 5-foot-3 Franklin playing at point guard, Burner said he’s been able to move Funkhouser to her more natural position and have her guard the other team’s top scorer each game.

Funkhouser, who was the Generals’ point guard the last three years, said she’s been very excited to play her more natural role.

“Kylene has changed my life simply because I no longer have to play a position that I wasn’t meant for,” Funkhouser said. “Plus, she’s made the team so much better, because she can pass the ball. She can drive it to the hoop. She makes us all open.”

Franklin said that she enjoys playing the point guard position, but it is a little harder doing it as a freshman.

“It’s kind of nerve-wracking being like a leader, because as a point guard you’re kind of like the leader of the court,” Franklin said. “And it’s hard being a leader yet being the youngest one.”

Franklin said the older players have treated her well and have helped her out whenever she’s needed it.

One thing that Franklin said has also helped is having two other freshman, Eli Dellinger and Sarah Streett, on the team.

“It’s really nice having other freshmen, especially so that I’m not the youngest one trying to work to get better,” Franklin said.

Franklin, who also started on the volleyball team this season, said that she wants to work on her perimeter shooting and become better at that.

The Generals are 6-8 and Franklin said she wants the team to finish the season strong and go as far as they can.

Growing up around the school, Franklin said that she was excited this year to finally be able to attend Stonewall Jackson High School.

“I love getting to be at Stonewall,” Franklin said. “I couldn’t imagine being at a different school. With my family and everybody being so supportive here, I just love being able to put Stonewall on my chest.”