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Sports


Unbeaten Stonewall girls off to best start in years


Posted 2017-12-14

    Stonewall Jackson’s girls basketball team is off to a fast start, winning its first three games. The Generals are in unfamiliar territory after wins over Rappahannock County, Central and Strasburg.

     Long-time coach Jeff Burner is excited about the 2017-18 season.  The Generals have been in a rebuilding process since the 2012-13 season, the last time they reached the regional tournament.  Losing most players to graduation, it has been a struggle to attain their current status.

    Burner has seen progress in the last few years, but he feels this team will be competitive in both the Shenandoah District and the 1A basketball playoffs in which Stonewall automatically qualifies.

    Lu Lu Funkhouser, the Generals’ captain for three seasons, is the team leader. In the Generals’ first three games, Funkhouser averaged seven points a game and clutched at the foul line, connecting on eight of 11 attempts. She also is considered a steadying influence during a close game.

    Senior Sara Streett, the most valuable player on last year’s team, is back to bolster the Stonewall inside game.  She is recovering from a pre-season injury but is almost at full strength.

    Senior J. J. Dellinger is the team’s leading scorer. Dellinger is averaging 11 points a game and is second on the team in three-point goals with three.  According to Burner, “J. J. has the most natural talent on the team, but she sometimes just floats through life, getting her in trouble with me. But she is getting better.”

    Junior Emily Dotson is a force on the inside, always guarding the opponents’ tallest girl.  Not only can she play inside, but she leads the team in three-point goals with six, averages 10 points a game and is the top Stonewall rebounder.

    Freshman Kylene Franklin brings to this team a true point guard and is a main reason this Stonewall team stands out from previous seasons.  Though only 5-3, she is quick, a good passer, can drive and score and has confidence in her ability.  She allows teammate Funkhouser to play her natural position at shooting guard for the first time in her four-year career. Said Franklin: “I’m excited playing with my upper-class teammates.”

    Another factor for Stonewall’s early success is a strong bench led by seniors Kelsey Hines, Madison Council and Destiny Neff.  All three, according to Burner, “are role models for hard work.”

    Junior Autumn Smith, a three-sport athlete, “just needs to believe in herself on the court,” according to Burner.  “Junior Makayla Stout is a good shooter and is working hard on her defense.”

    Sophomore Autumn Summers, in Burner’s opinion, “can play any position.”

    Two other freshmen, Eliana Dellinger and a second Sarah Streett have seen quality playing time.

    “Both are very athletic,” said Burner.

    Burner keeps his offense and defense simple.  He doesn’t make many changes, but if something is not working he finds out why and works on improving the problem.

    Burner calls his team the “grinder,” going over and over until it clicks.  His team’s strength is its defense.  In the end, he wants his players to be the best they can be.