STRASBURG – Stonewall Jackson girls basketball coach Jeff Burner knows he has to be patient with his young team this season.
Burner isn’t focused on the wins and losses, but just looking for improvement from game-to-game. And he saw that in Thursday night’s 65-44 loss to Strasburg.
“I was pleased with our growth,” Burner said. “We’re getting better. I thought in the second half we were more aggressive on offense. In the first half, I thought we were more passive.”
The Generals (0-2) had a big size differential to overcome against the Rams. Strasburg has three players 6-foot-2 or taller, while Stonewall Jackson’s tallest player is 5-foot-8 sophomore Eli Dellinger.
Stonewall Jackson sophomore Kylene Franklin said it took the team a little time to adjust to the height and play the way they were capable.
“I think we started off with a rough start,” Franklin said. “I think we were just scared and intimidated. But I feel like as the game went on, we gained more confidence in ourselves. We were being stronger with the ball, being smarter with the ball. I just felt like we developed more and more as the game went on.”
The Generals never led in the game and trailed 35-13 at the half before improving in the second half.
Franklin led the Generals with 23 points, six rebounds, five steals, and two assists. She is the only starter returning from last year’s Class 1 state semifinal squad.
Dellinger, the only other player who saw valuable playing time last year, had 8 points and seven rebounds.
Burner said he was also happy with the play of his bench.
“The thing is, we got great contributions from almost everybody that came off the bench,” Burner said. “They all played hard. They didn’t always do smart things, but they played hard. We’ll get better. We’re going to keep working.”
Junior guard Autumn Summers, a starter, gave the Generals a lift as well.
“We were so excited about her last year,” Burner said of Summers. “And then she had problems with her back, and so then she didn’t get to play. I was loving seeing her get to play. ...She’s just a smart kid, and I love how hard she plays. And I was just glad to see her back and healthy.”
Franklin said that she saw a lot of improvement in the young Generals’ squad from their season-opening loss to Central on Tuesday to the Strasburg loss.
“I feel like we were definitely a lot more confident with ourselves and with our teammates,” she said. “Because last game we weren’t having faith in each other to do stuff. And I just feel like being united as a team and working and relying on one another is key.”
The Generals play at Rappahannock County at 1:30 p.m. today.
Franklin said she feels good about what the squad, which features eight sophomores and a freshman, can do moving forward this season.
“I feel like we’re going to have a good season,” she said. “It may not be as good as last year, but I feel like we are definitely going to be just as good. We are going to work hard and earn everything we get.”