Generals outlast Bulldogs, end regular season with a win
QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson High School’s girls basketball game against Luray Tuesday night wasn’t a pretty one. They rarely are when the Generals hit the court, but that’s exactly how they prefer their basketball games.
The Generals had more turnovers than shot attempts against Luray and mustered fewer than 40 points, but that output was enough to outlast the slumping Bulldogs in a 36-30 Shenandoah District victory at home in the regular season finale for both schools.
“We like ugly games,” Stonewall senior Madison Long said with a smile. “We like the low-scoring, aggressive games.”
Stonewall’s victory over the Bulldogs followed a familiar template but likely carried a little more weight given the circumstances.
The win was just the Generals’ sixth this season – they began the year 3-0 – and redeemed a 12-point loss to Luray back on Jan. 13 while snapping a four-game losing streak and marking their first win in the Shenandoah District this year. The victory also came just three days before Stonewall will host Highland in the first round of the Conference 44 tournament on Friday, offering the Generals a chance to build some needed momentum entering the playoffs. And it came on senior night.
“Overall it pretty much means everything to our team,” said Long, who was honored before the game alongside fellow seniors Emily Ball, Reganne Brinkley and Jessie Pechie. “It’s senior night, the last regular game and we all came out and worked hard. So it really means a lot to all of us.”
Stonewall (6-16, 1-13 Shenandoah District) trailed early, as the Bulldogs (8-14, 3-11) – who have now lost six straight – opened the game with a 6-0 run and led 12-6 after the first period. The Generals, not known as a prolific offensive group, rallied from that deficit in the second quarter behind four 3-pointers from three different players.
Sara Streett, a junior who led the Generals with 12 points and eight rebounds in the victory, got things rolling by scoring the first 5 points of the second period, and Long knocked down a 3-pointer with 3:55 left in the first half to give Stonewall a 14-13 advantage. The Generals would hold the lead for the rest of the night.
Emily Dodson followed Long’s 3 with a trey of her own on the next possession and Streett’s second 3-pointer of the quarter sent the Generals into halftime with a 20-15 lead.
“That’s what we like,” Generals head coach Jeff Burner said of the low-scoring game. “I mean it’s gotta be or we’re probably not gonna do too much.
“We shot the ball well against their zone,” added Burner, whose team had 29 turnovers but shot 40.7 percent (11 for 27) from the field, “but then we struggled against their man. I mean that’s usually what we like the best.”
Both teams combined for just 7 points in the third period as the Generals carried a 23-19 lead into the final frame before stretching the lead to seven following free throws from Long and Dodson, who finished the night with 6 points apiece.
Luray cut Stonewall’s lead to 28-24 with 4:15 to play when Chelsey McClung (9 points) connected on the Bulldogs’ only 3-pointer of the game, but the Generals came back with a 6-0 run over the next 90 seconds.
J.J. Dellinger started the spurt when she scored in the lane off an assist from LuLu Funkhouser. Ball followed with two free throws then secured a loose-ball rebound for an offensive stickback to put the Generals up 34-24 with 2:30 left.
“I’ve never been a really hard-hitting offensive player,” said Ball, who scored all six of her points in the fourth quarter and finished with seven rebounds. “I just kind of do my job on defense and do what I can. But the last quarter, I don’t know, I guess it just kind of set in that this might be one of my last games so I just tried to do everything I could.”
Luray, which missed 11 straight free throws in the loss and finished 5-for-17 from the line, made four straight free throws between Kristen Weaver and Cassie Weakley (11 points, 10 rebounds) in the final minute before McClung’s midrange jumper pulled the Bulldogs within 34-30 with 18 seconds left.
The Bulldogs, out of timeouts by that point, would get no closer.
In addition to its struggles at the free-throw line, Luray shot just 19.7 percent from the field on 61 shot attempts. The Bulldogs made as many field goals in the first period (six) as they did in the final three quarters combined and turned the ball over 16 times.
“We played our typical man in the first half but then in the second half we did a little more matchup zone,” Burner said. “We’ve been messing with it so we decided we’d use it a little bit here and see what we can do. I thought it was pretty effective in the second half. I don’t think we played bad defensively in the first half. If we can avoid turnovers then usually our half-court defense does pretty well, keeps us in things.”
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org