WOODSTOCK — The number 17 was a special one for Maria Marston on Monday.
The Central junior scored 17 points on her 17th birthday to help lead the Falcons to a 50-31 nondistrict girls basketball victory over Stonewall Jackson.
While the points were great, Marston was just as happy with her career-high 13 rebounds.
“Those rebounds felt good,” Marston said. “I don’t think I’ve ever rebounded that much.”
Marston helped the Falcons control the boards against the smaller Stonewall Jackson squad. The Falcons out-rebounded Stonewall Jackson, 47-18, in the game.
Central started off slow as both teams struggled to score. The Generals scored the first three points of the game.
Central’s Kendall Herbaugh scored inside the paint on an assist from Marston with 4:15 left in the opening quarter. Stonewall Jackson’s Alexis Franklin made a free throw to extend the lead to 4-2.
The Falcons (3-3) then closed the quarter on a 9-0 run and began to take control of the game.
“I thought we had a couple stretches where I was really pleased with what we did,” Stonewall Jackson coach Jeff Burner said. “I think the first six minutes of the first quarter was the best defense we’ve played all year.”
In the second quarter, Marston changed up her game and began to have an impact on the floor. Normally known for her 3-point shooting, the 5-foot-8 Marston went inside the paint and scored, including many on putbacks.
“That felt good,” Marston said. “I knew that my shot was off after I kept shooting a while. But then when I got inside it felt good after I made all those inside shots.”
She scored nine points in the second quarter as the Falcons built a 30-14 halftime edge.
Central coach Bryan Scott said that Marston’s versatility is a big key for the team.
“Maria Marston, I put her down on the block and a lot of people don’t understand she’s a pretty good post player too,” Scott said. “Even though she shoots a lot of 3’s. But that’s a good facet of her game that she can kind of do both.”
Another key to the win for the Falcons was their defense. Central’s full-court press caused problems for the Generals throughout the game. Stonewall Jackson had 23 turnovers in the contest.
Scott said he wasn’t planning on using it, but the players told him they wanted to do it.
“The girls looked at me before the game and said ‘coach Scott are we going to press?’” Scott said. “I said it’s on you and they said ‘yep.’ They kind of talked me into it, because I know (Stonewall Jackson point guard Kylene) Franklin is a good ball handler. I know she’s quick. She gets the ball and she goes 100 miles an hour. And I love that about her. ...We figured things out on the defensive end. Sometimes it ain’t pretty but once we started playing defense and creating turnovers — that’s what I like.”
The Falcons extended the lead to 39-18 after three quarters. Kylene Franklin led the Generals on one final surge at the start of the fourth quarter. Stonewall Jackson used a 7-0 run, with five points by Kylene Franklin, to cut the lead to 39-25 with 6:16 left.
However, Marston responded with back-to-back baskets to push the lead back to 18.
Stonewall Jackson (0-6) struggled from the free-throw line throughout the game, making just 10-of-23.
“I told them if we would have made a few more free throws then all of a sudden when we made that run in the fourth quarter to get it down to 14 — that’s 8 if you make your free throws,” Burner said. “Then all of a sudden that’s a different pressure on them altogether.”
Kylene Franklin led the Generals with 16 points, five rebounds, and three steals. Alexis Franklin had nine points.
Burner said his young squad needs to be more physical and play tougher.
“We’re not real tough yet and we’ve got to get tough,” he said. “Sports — it’s a tough thing. You got to be tough and be physical and we haven’t gotten there yet, either. That’s something else that we’re trying to do — to get them to that level.”
Central’s Maya Frye-Williams had 10 points and Herbaugh had nine points and 16 rebounds for the Falcons.
Marston said she feels good about how the team, which has won two games in a row, is playing.
“We’re just now getting our defense back to how it used to be,” Marston said. “Our defense is really kicking in and our offense — (shots) will fall eventually.”