Generals excited for regional final against Dragons

Stonewall Jackson head coach Jeff Burner encourages his players during third quarter action of the Region 1B tournament semifinals in Quicksburg Wednesday night. The Generals host Appomattox Regional Governor's School in the regional final tonight. Rich Cooley/Daily

QUICKSBURG — Three years ago, Stonewall Jackson’s girls basketball team struggled to win games. Now they are in the Class 1 state tournament.

Many of Stonewall Jackson’s seniors who were freshmen on the team three years ago said it’s been an amazing journey.

“It’s unreal,” Stonewall Jackson senior LuLu Funkhouser said after practice Thursday. “If you would have told me this three years ago, I would have laughed in your face. I’d have been like there’s no way. I’m shocked, but amazed.”

Stonewall Jackson advanced to the state tournament with a 55-50 victory over Shenandoah District rival Riverheads on Wednesday in the Region 1B semifinals. The Generals host Appomattox Regional Governor’s School in the regional final at 6 p.m., tonight. It is Stonewall Jackson’s first state berth since 2007.

Stonewall Jackson coach Jeff Burner said he was looking at one of his old scorebooks Thursday and saw where just two years ago the Generals were defeated by East Rockingham 65-16 and made only two baskets in the game.

He said he’s very proud of how far his players have come over the last few years.

“That’s a pretty good improvement,” Burner said of the turnaround. “But that also goes to show how resilient they are. And the fact that there’s so many people in the world that when you get smacked in the face you back down, or if something doesn’t work the way you want, you quit. And this group of kids is really tough. They took those beatings those first couple years and have really just gotten better and better and better.

“And then we have the right chemistry of younger kids this year and stuff to sort of kick us up to another level.”

Stonewall Jackson senior Sara Streett said that having gone through the tough times has made advancing to the state tournament even sweeter.

“We’re glad, we’re thankful that we’re here and everything, but we’ve put in the work,” Streett said. “It’s not something that was just given to us.”

The Generals (12-13) have relied on their defense all season, and that defense will be put to the test against the Dragons tonight.

Appomattox (7-15) is led by 6-foot-2 junior forward Jada Boyd, who earlier this season broke two Virginia High School League records.

Boyd scored 69 points and 33 rebounds on Jan. 10 against Franklin High School in a 79-77 overtime loss. Boyd broke the single-game record for points and rebounds in a game.

She is averaging 37 points and 13 rebounds per contest, as well as 8.4 blocks and 4.1 steals per game. The Dragons are averaging 45.5 points per game.

Boyd has received college offers from numerous schools, including the University of Maryland, West Virginia University and Wake Forest.

Fifth-seeded Appomattox beat top-seeded Altavista, 52-36, on Wednesday. Boyd had 42 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks.

“Obviously, she’s a heck of a player,” Burner said. “So we’ll do the best we can and see what we can do. We’re not going to do a whole lot different. We’re going to stick to what we do.”

The Generals have been led all season by senior J.J. Dellinger, who is averaging 11.6 points per game, and freshman point guard Kylene Franklin (10 points per game).

Streett is averaging 6.6 points per contest and junior Emily Dodson is averaging 6 points per game.

Win or lose tonight, the Generals will play a state quarterfinal game at Prince Edward High School on either March 2 or 3.

For the seniors they have one last game at home tonight.

“When we found out that Altavista lost, that made the night even better — knowing that we’re going to states and we’re hosting the regional championship,” Streett said. “We had a great student section last night — that helped out a lot. We haven’t had that in a long time. And I know everyone’s pumped to come, everyone’s excited.”