Bringing the intensity for four quarters. That was the focus for Central in the Falcons home win against Stonewall Jackson on Monday. The Falcons delivered, jumping out to a 21-7 lead after the first quarter and eventually defeating the Generals 66-27.
“We’ve been emphasizing coming out and playing hard. I thought it was a strong effort by everyone,” Central coach Jeff Whittle said. “As coaches, we can live with them making mistakes as long as they’re playing hard.”
The Falcons didn’t make many mistakes in their dominant home victory. The team kept the pressure on defensively, forcing turnovers that led to quick scores. In the first quarter, junior Dominic Strother had a steal in the Generals end that he turned into an emphatic dunk for 2 points. Strother finished the game with 21 points and eight rebounds.
Seven other Falcons scored at least one field goal and eight Central players posted at least one assist. Senior Alex Neff was the team’s second-leading scorer, finishing with 15 points. Fellow senior Dylan Hamrick finished with 8 points and three assists. Ryan Shaffer, Chase Helsley and Ashton Baker each finished with two assists. Shaffer also scored 5 points.
“Everyone just showed up and we played like we can,” Neff said after the game. “We picked up the intensity for the first time, and it showed.”
For the Generals, Michael Stout was the team’s leading scorer. Stout hit two 3-pointers and was fouled while attempting another. He finished the game with 9 points. Tucker Dorman and Christian Hess each added 6 points.
The win for the Falcons gives them a perfect 7-0 record on the season. Central’s next game is the start of their district regular season. They’ll take on Manassas Park at home on Tuesday. Whittle said he hopes his team can build off its strong performance against Stonewall Jackson as they start district play.
“We’re ready. We’re excited about getting into district play,” Whittle said.
He said he hopes his team’s dedication during the winter break will help them continue to improve during the second half of the season. Whittle says he’s been able to hold shootarounds, team meals and team bonding activities in addition to practices while his players have been out of school.
“It’s tough over the holidays, but they made a commitment,” he said. “Everyone’s been to all the practices we’ve had.”
Neff says it has been easier for the team to stay focused since they’ve been out of class.
“We can get straight to basketball when we get here,” he explained.