Stonewall’s Dellinger making most of senior season

Stonewall's J.J. Dellinger grabs a pass during fourth quarter action Monday night against Page County in Quicksburg. Dellinger is having a strong senior season and leads the area in rebounding, averaging 8.3 per game. Rich Cooley/Daily

QUICKSBURG — Stonewall Jackson girls basketball coach Jeff Burner has been waiting for three years to see J.J. Dellinger play like she has this season.

The Stonewall Jackson senior is having a banner year, and Burner said he’s not surprised by how she’s playing.

“I think she’s finally playing a lot more to her potential,” Burner said. “She’s one of those players that she has amazing athletic ability. She has a nose for the ball. And she hadn’t really played up to that potential until this year.”

Dellinger is third in the area in scoring, averaging 12.7 points per game. She also leads the area in rebounding, averaging 8.3 per contest.

Dellinger said she thinks the only difference from previous years to this one is that she knows it’s her last year.

“I guess it’s just senior year — a go big or go home kind of thing,” Dellinger said.

Dellinger has put together a strong overall season, doing a little bit of everything for the Generals.

Burner said the 5-foot-7 Dellinger has really improved on her rebounding and he’s very happy to see it.

“She goes to the board like a fiend,” Burner said. “And like I’ve been screaming at her for three years to rebound. And then all of a sudden it’s just like the light clicked on and shes been going to the boards hard. And that’s made a huge difference for us.”

In the past Dellinger relied mostly on shooting jump shots, especially 3-pointers. However, this year she’s driving to the basket more and getting to the free-throw line. She’s fourth in the area in free-throw shooting (67.2 percent, 72-for-107).

“I think it’s just a matter of not being intimidated or not being scared,” Dellinger said of driving to the basket. “Like you’re one of the older ones on the court so drive, help your team. Quit being scared.”

Dellinger said she used to attend basketball camps at Stonewall Jackson when she was younger. This past summer Dellinger said she was one of the players helping run the camps and it was a great experience for her.

“Looking up to the players that were here when I went and now being the player that’s running it is surreal,” Dellinger said. “That’s amazing. It was a lot of fun though.”

Dellinger is a three-sport athlete at Stonewall Jackson. She runs on the girls cross country team and is also on the girls soccer team. Dellinger said girls basketball and soccer are her two favorite sports.

Dellinger has been a four-year starter for the Generals, and said she felt like the lessons she’s learned the past three years have helped her this year.

Burner said that Dellinger is a quiet leader for the team that the other players definitely look up to.

“I do think she goes around and talks to kids, and her personality is such that people just like J.J.,” Burner said. “J.J.’s just so easy going that I think that is part of it too. Kids like her. And they’re going to listen to what she does say even if it’s in a much quieter tone.”

The Generals are 10-11 this season and play their final regular season game tonight at Buffalo Gap.

Stonewall Jackson is automatically in the Region 1B tournament, as there are only eight teams in the region that have girls basketball teams. The Generals are in second place in the regional standings, and could get at least one home game for regionals. The two regional finalists advance to the state tournament.

Dellinger said she believes the team can make a good postseason run if the Generals play up to their potential.

“I just want us to make it as far as we can in postseason, because in past years we’ve made it one or two games into the postseason,” Dellinger said. “I want to make it further. I think we can do that if we work our butts off.”