QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson couldn’t have had a much different season this year compared to last year, but one constant in both years was the play of point guard Kylene Franklin.
The sophomore put together an impressive season despite being on a team that struggled to win games. She averaged an area-best 18.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 2.6 steals per contest.
“I was kind of surprised,” Franklin said of her stellar season. “But I do work hard every day to be the best that I can be.”
Franklin, The Northern Virginia Daily’s 2019 Girls Basketball Co-Player of the Year, averaged over half of her team’s points during the season and rarely came out of the game.
Last year the Generals advanced to the Class 1 state semifinals, but they lost a lot to graduation. Several players didn’t return to the team this season, leaving Franklin as the only starter and most experienced player coming back. Franklin and classmate Eli Dellinger were the only two returning players with valuable experience, and it showed as the Generals won only one game and averaged 34.7 points per contest.
Stonewall Jackson coach Jeff Burner said that Franklin did a great job leading the team, especially vocally, and never once complained about the situation she was in.
“Kylene (Franklin) obviously had a monster season,” Burner said. “She had a really big year for us. She had a lot on her as far as scoring and leading a young team and having to do that as a sophomore is not easy.”
Franklin said it was a little pressure on her to lead the team, but she said her teammates made things much easier.
“It was a little rough in the beginning,” Franklin said. “But I knew that they could handle it with just a little encouragement and just helping with all of them. It was really easy to pick them up and have them work hard and get better.”
The 5-foot-3 Franklin’s ability to use her quickness to drive to the basket allowed her to get to the free throw line game after game.
She averaged 7.7 free throw attempts per game and made an area-best 100 free throws this season. Franklin said she would liked to have done better at the free-throw line, where she shot 58.8 percent (100-for-170), but she felt like she got better at making free throws as the season went on.
Franklin said making layups has always been a big part of her game. She led the area in field goal percentage at 44.1 percent (149-for-338), including 48.2 percent (149-for-338) on 2-pointers.
“That’s something I’ve always been good at is my layups,” she said. “My layups have been very accurate. They used to think that was the only thing I was good at, but then Burner helped me with my free throws and my shooting to where it got better.”
One area where Franklin improved was her 3-point shooting. Franklin shot 23.2 percent (13-for-56) from behind the arc.
Franklin said she also felt her court vision also really improved throughout the season as well.
“At the beginning of the year, me personally, I was thinking ‘oh you’re taking it to the basket too much,’” Franklin said. “And I really just wasn’t having the proper court vision that I should have. But I definitely think there were games that I had really good court vision and I was able to see stuff that I wasn’t able to see before.”
Burner said that Franklin is a hard worker and is very coachable. Burner said that Franklin is also one of the team’s best defenders, but because she’s so valuable on offense a lot of times he would wait and put her on one of the opponent’s best offensive players in the fourth quarter. She also led the team with 12 blocks.
Franklin earned first-team All-Shenandoah District and All-Region 1B honors this season.
Franklin had a consistent offensive season in which she scored in double figures every single game. Burner said she was the first player to score over 400 points for his program since 2012 Stonewall Jackson graduate Ashlie Clar.
Burner said that one of Franklin’s games that stood out to him was against Luray on Dec. 7, where she had a career-high 34 points.
“Over at Luray she had 26 points at the half,” Burner said. “She really kept us in the game. I think it was 40-34 at halftime. She just had a great game.”
Franklin said she also was proud of her game in the Region 1B quarterfinals against Riverheads on Feb. 19, where she had 25 of the Generals’ 33 points and also had six steals.
As a team, Franklin said there were a few games that stood out to her including the team’s only win over Robert E. Lee and games against Wilson Memorial and Stuarts Draft, which came down to the wire.
She said she was proud of how far the young team, which featured eight sophomores and one freshman, came from the start of the year until the end.
“I think that our season went well from what we started with because it started with a bunch of newcomers to varsity basketball that we developed throughout the year,” Franklin said. “We came more together as a team. And we worked on stuff that we weren’t so good at. Free throws and our shooting percentage wasn’t that high in the beginning of the year, and it got higher as the year went on.”
Franklin, a three-sport athlete at Stonewall Jackson, said that she wants to keep working on her game in the offseason, especially her free-throw shooting and perimeter shooting. She said she is looking forward to next season and thinks the team will do much better.
“I’m definitely ready for next year with everybody being ready and experienced now,” she said. “And then with having some of those (junior varsity players) come up, I definitely do think next year is going to be a really good year for us. We still won’t have much height, but I definitely think it will be a really good year.”