QUICKSBURG – Central girls basketball coach Bryan Scott said last week that the Falcons should be a better shooting team than they were a season ago. They didn’t need to test that improvement against Stonewall Jackson on Tuesday night.
The Falcons held a distinct size advantage over the Generals and used it effectively, scoring 24 points in the paint and out-rebounding Stonewall 42-21 en route to a 43-30 non-district win in what was the season opener for both teams.
“We knew coming in they were lacking a little size and we worked on post entry passes for a couple days, even with some pressure on us because I know they’re gonna play some pretty good defense out on the wings,” Scott said after the win. “We did a couple drills where we were fouling, smacking one another so we could work on stepping through, and it worked to our benefit. It definitely helped us. That was probably the key to our game was our inside presence.”
Central’s two most prominent interior players, seniors Tycara Scott and Kendall Herbaugh, were a particular nuisance to the Generals (0-1). Herbaugh did most of her damage on the glass, scrapping her way to 18 rebounds to go along with her 9 points. Tycara Scott, who, at 6-foot-1, held a 5-inch height advantage over anyone on Stonewall’s roster, had a game-high 18 points and nine boards.
Tycara Scott’s 8-point surge midway through the first period – during which she hit buckets in the paint on four of six possessions, three times on assists from Herbaugh – helped turn a 5-4 deficit into a 15-7 Central lead at the end of the frame. The margin never got smaller than that the rest of the night.
Central (1-0) exposed Stonewall’s lack of size, but Generals’ longtime coach Jeff Burner said his team didn’t help itself by committing mistakes that often plague an inexperienced team.
“Part of it, too, is we also didn’t do what we had talked about,” Burner said of the Falcons’ success in the paint, “and some of that’s because you still don’t know what you’re doing, you’re still trying to figure out exactly what everything is and how to do it. And then I felt like on offense, other than Kylene (Franklin) and Eli (Dellinger), everybody was sort of in that ‘should I (shoot)?’ kind of thing. That was going on the whole night.”
The Falcons didn’t exactly shoot the lights out – they hit 19 of 51 shots for a 37.3-percent mark – but they were far more efficient than Stonewall, which shot only 26 percent from the floor.
Dellinger did find a rhythm from beyond the 3-point arc in the second half, during which she scored 9 of her 11 points, and her third 3-pointer of the night cut Central’s lead to 41-29 with 2:55 to play. But it was Franklin, a sophomore point guard and the only returning starter from last season’s Class 1 state semifinal team, who handled most of the scoring for the Generals.
Franklin led Stonewall with 15 points and eight rebounds and enjoyed remarkable success converting offensive stickbacks in the lane for a player listed at 5-foot-3. Bryan Scott said Central “fiddled with some things” defensively to try to limit Franklin, and Tycara Scott said the Falcons need to be better at moving their feet defensively against players with Franklin’s quickness.
“I think that was a good thing for us to see just so that we know what we need to work on,” Tycara Scott said. “But overall I think we did pretty good, and I think we made a good statement for the opening game, so I feel like we’re gonna keep going stronger as the season goes on.”
While the established veterans did their part for Central – junior Maria Marston, a three-year starter, added 8 points and four rebounds in the win – three varsity newcomers gave the Falcons some solid minutes.
Freshman guard Erika Hutton had 6 points on a pair of 3-pointers as the first player off the bench, fellow freshman Ella Toothman got the start in her first varsity game and pulled down four rebounds, and sophomore Sydney Putman saw a lot of playing time and had 2 points and two rebounds.
“The Hutton girl, she’s gonna be good,” Bryan Scott said. “She’s worked on her outside shot, which she hit a couple big threes. That helps you as a freshman. That gives you a little confidence, a little swagger. And Ella Toothman did a great job. She had a little rough scrimmage against Broadway, but she bounced back tonight. She did a lot of good things tonight, and that’s what I wanted so she could get out of that funk of what happened at Broadway.”
While the Falcons left Quicksburg happy with the win — Bryan Scott said he was particularly pleased with the first half, which ended with his team holding a 25-11 lead — they know they let Stonewall hang around in the fourth quarter while scoring just 4 points in the frame.
“I’m not sure if we were just relaxed or if we were just a little wore out or what it was,” Tycara Scott said, “but we’re definitely gonna have to work on that because I was hoping to put them out more than this.”
Central returns to action against Page County at home on Friday, while Stonewall travels to Strasburg today to take on a team that will feature even more height than the Falcons.
“Our goal is to try to be really good by the end, and I’m not gonna try to cheat steps to get there,” Burner said, “so I’m gonna keep working on what we do and try to get better at it, and hopefully after they’ve had it pounded into them like seven million times as we go through the season we’ll be better at it.”