Generals fall to Cougars in state semifinals
STRASBURG — Stonewall Jackson fought hard, but came up short on Tuesday night in the Class 1 state girls basketball semifinals.
Surry County ended the game on a big run to rally for a 49-43 victory at Strasburg High School.
With the Cougars trailing 41-39 with 3:57 left, they went on a 10-2 run to pull out the win.
“It was a physical game, very physical,” Stonewall Jackson coach Jeff Burner said. “We battled. It was 41-all and then plays go their way. And so that’s the way sometimes basketball works.”
Surry County’s Ne’Ondra Kelly started the decisive spurt with a basket, and a steal and layup by Bre’cha Bryd extended the lead to 45-41 with 2:10 remaining.
The Generals (14-14) missed four free shots and had a couple turnovers down the stretch as Surry County pulled away.
The Generals led for most of the first half. A layup by Sara Streett with 6:03 left in the opening quarter, gave the Generals the lead and they held it until there was less than a minute left in the half.
Stonewall Jackson was able to break Surry County’s full-court press and get easy layups at times.
J.J. Dellinger hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Generals a 16-10 lead after the first period.
The Generals were able to extend the lead to 24-14 with 5:02 left in the second period, on a layup by Kylene Franklin, two free throws by Streett and a free throw by Dellinger.
The Cougars (28-2) used a 16-5 run to take a 28-27 edge late in the first half. Surry County led 30-29 at the half.
Stonewall Jackson was in foul trouble throughout the game. All five starters had at least two fouls at the half. The Cougars use a relentless full-court press, which caused turnovers and at times had the Generals playing out of control.
Burner said he felt like the tempo got out of hand for the Generals in the second quarter.
“The second quarter we did play at their pace and we also we got in foul trouble, which is one of the reasons we played at their pace,” Burner said. “Those are things that sometimes you can’t control, but that’s what their team does. I think they sort of put you into that bind, because they’re constantly attacking you. I thought for three quarters of the game we played it the way we wanted to play, but the second quarter I thought was a huge difference in the game.”
Franklin had 14 points at the half to lead the Generals.
“I’ve said this all along, Kylene has jumped us to another level,” Burner said. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that. I mean she gets us going. She allows us to do so many of the things we want to do. And she allows the other kids to play their natural positions, and she handles the ball so well.”
Both teams struggled in the third quarter, offensively. The Cougars were able to take a 39-34 lead heading into the final period.
The Generals used a 7-0 run to take a 41-39 edge with 3:57 left. Dellinger and Kelsey Hines scored on a layup each and Franklin completed a conventional three-point play to end the run.
Hines scored 4 points and had four rebounds for the Generals off the bench.
“What a great game for Kelsey (Hines) in her last game and everything,” Burner said. “I’m just ecstatic for the way that she played. We went a little longer (with her in the game) than what we planned to just because she played so well. I was so proud of her.”
Surry County was led by Jasmyn Pierce with 19 points, and Bryd with 13. It was Surry County’s 12th win in a row.
Franklin led the Generals with 19 points, and Dellinger added 10 points and eight rebounds. Streett had 5 points and nine rebounds.
“I think we played our hearts out,” Franklin said. “I think every second we gave it all we could. Even though we had some mistakes, we still gave it our all.”
The Generals reached the state semifinals for the first time since 2007, and Dellinger said it was a great accomplishment for the team.
“I’m proud of our effort and what we were able to do — something I never thought we could,” Dellinger said.
Burner said he was really proud of his six seniors — Hines, LuLu Funkhouser, Madison Councill, Destiny Neff, Streett and Dellinger. Several of the players were on the team as freshman when the Generals won only three games.
“Obviously, I love this group of seniors,” Burner said. “As a coach when a team only wins three games and then six games and gets their butts handed to them pretty regularly, and they still believe in you and what you do, when they still believe in that — that’s a pretty special thing to have. So I’m pretty proud of them as a group. I love this group of seniors. They’re just a great group of girls. They’re going to be far more successful in life than they are at basketball.”