Generals advance to state tournament with victory over Gladiators
QUICKSBURG — Stonewall Jackson saved its best for the biggest moment.
The second-seeded Generals girls basketball team rallied from a double-digit deficit and knocked off third-seeded Riverheads, 55-50, in the Region 1B semifinals on Wednesday. The win gives the Generals a berth in the Class 1 state tournament.
“I’m ecstatic,” Stonewall Jackson senior J.J. Dellinger said. “When things shifted and we started to take the lead … I’m still bouncing. I’m so excited. I’m so happy.”
The Generals trailed by 12 late in the second period, and by nine at the half.
Stonewall Jackson used its defense to slow down the Riverheads offense. The Gladiators made only basket in the first seven minutes of the third period.
The Generals took advantage by attacking the basket. Stonewall Jackson used a 10-1 run to tie the game at 30 with 2:21 left in the third period.
Stonewall Jackson freshman Kylene Franklin scored seven points in that span, including a 3-pointer that tied the game. Franklin had 12 of her team-high 18 points in the second half.
“I guess I was just thinking that it was time that we turn it around in the game,” Franklin said of her second-half surge. “That even though that we were down that we could still do it. We were going on and we did. We picked it up big time.”
The Gladiators responded with five straight points, including four by Hannah Grubb, for a 35-30 lead with 7:01 left in the game.
The two teams went back and forth until another 3-pointer by Franklin cut the Riverheads lead to 42-41 with 3:19 remaining.
“Kylene really turned it around in the second half and sort of took over the game,” Stonewall Jackson coach Jeff Burner said. “I told her at halftime you got to stop focusing on the negative things and focus on the positives and just play. You’re thinking too much. Let me do the thinking and just play.”
Two free throws by Riverheads’ Olivia Madlin extended the lead to 44-41.
Stonewall Jackson took its first lead of the game, 45-44, after four straight free throws from Sara Streett and J.J. Dellinger.
Emma Grubb responded with a 3-pointer with two minutes left to give Riverheads the lead back.
The Generals scored the next seven points to take a 52-47 lead with 46 seconds left.
Stonewall Jackson’s Emily Dodson hit a 3-pointer and Franklin and LuLu Funkhouser each hit two free throws during the spurt.
“I knew we had to hit some big shots,” Dodson said of her 3-pointer. “I just knew that we could do it and I had the confidence in my head. I was like my team believes in me. I can shoot it.”
Riverheads’ Sara Moore made three free throws to cut the lead to 52-50 with 28 seconds left.
After Franklin made 1-of-2 at the foul line, Dellinger stole the ball on Riverheads’ next possession.
Streett and Funkhouser each made a free throw down the stretch to seal the win.
“I’m just very proud of this group of kids, and what they’ve done and where they’ve come to get here,” Burner said. “They’re just so resilient. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and they play that way. And every time they would make a run our kids would answer.”
The Generals were 6-for-19 in the first half from the free-throw line and 16-for-21 in the second half.
Hannah Grubb led Riverheads with 18 points.
Dodson had 14 points and Dellinger had 12 points for the Generals.
Stonewall Jackson will host fifth-seeded Appomatox Regional Governor’s School in the regional final at 6 p.m., Friday.