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When it came to hosting Forest Park on Nov. 29, Stonewall showed that, at least locally, that it is still a powerhouse led by a standout junior.
SJ girls strong against Forest Park inbetween losses
© Gainesville TimesStonewall Jackson starting out the girls varsity basketball season at 1-2 is unusual.
Three games into the season and the Raiders have already lost half as many games as all of last season.
As for what that means, it's not much regarding the regular season as a whole or how strong the group will be in the post-season.
What they demonstrate though is that Stonewall is clearly not the best team in the metro region.
Riverdale Baptist (3-0) and H.D. Woodson (1-0) both handled the Raiders by double digits, putting up winning margins of 16 and 27 points, respectively.
Those two teams are also ranked first and second in the area, according to the Washington Post.
Yet when it came to hosting Forest Park on Nov. 29, Stonewall showed that, at least locally, that it is still a powerhouse led by a standout junior.
Potomac withstanding, games between Forest Park and Stonewall tend to be the unofficial marker for bragging rights when it comes to who is the strongest team in the county.
So putting up a double-digit victory is kind of a big deal for the victor, as it was on Thursday night.
Guiding her team to a 65-50 win in Manassas, the 6-foot-2 power forward Nicole Floyd earned a double-double before halftime for hauling in 18 rebounds while putting up 16 points.
She closed the night with 21 boards and 25 points.
Forest Park head coach Rebecca Tillett claimed that she thought the Raiders' rebounding and second-chance opportunities were "what really determined" the outcome of the game.
She added that the Raiders' "two most effective offensive weapons" came from rebounding and quickness.
Defensively, the Raiders were "not showing the same full-court trap we're used to" from them either, suggesting that Stonewall is willing to vary their game plan and style of game to suit their opponents instead of using a one-defense-fits-all approach.
"We're (much) more aggressive" this season, said Stonewall senior forward Taylor Character. "I guess this year we're all about trying to stop the ball before" the half court line.
That does not necessary mean trapping, however, as much as just playing smart on defense.
Stonewall struggled early, missing its first six shots and falling into a 3-0 hole after senior guard Annalea Roeske (14 points) hit her first of four distance shots from behind the arc on the night.
Once sophomore Sydney Jordan finally broke the ice, the Raiders went on a 14-4 run, never trailing again after Floyd put up her first bucket on a rebound and put-back to give Stonewall a 4-3 advantage
She would only score four points in the first quarter but came alive with five field goals and five foul shots in the second period as part of a 15-point effort.
The rest of the Raiders combined scored three points while Forest Park as a whole only put up 12 points that quarter.
"Last season, I wasn't using all my skill," said Floyd. "I was one-dimensional."
That's why she's trying to broaden her game into rebounding, passing, shooting and playing effective defense, allowing her to have a similar presence on the floor to that from all-star alumna Gwen Washington a few years back.
Meanwhile, her supporting cast is close to as strong as what Washington had during the Raiders' runs to states.
Character placed second for the team in scoring with 16 points Thursday, followed by Hayley Nordike's nine points.
The sophomore guard Nordike collected all of her points on three pointers, landing her first one with a high arch from an NBA-distance length in front of the Forest Park bench.
Senior Amanda Hinton (8 points) hit Stonewall's only other three, sinking one in the first quarter after a pass from sophomore Rachel Burns.
She bricked a volley of distance attempts between her first and second successful 3-pointers.
Yet, according to Floyd, the lesson there is that "if she misses four in a row, keep shooting."
After all, the monster rebounder and her teammates are more likely than not to grab a board if a shot misses its mark.
Stonewall tallied 40 rebounds on the night, with six coming each from Jordan and Burns. Junior Alonna Harris brought down five and Character grabbed two.
Free throw shots also fell at a better rate for the home team than visitors, with Stonewall sinking nine out of 11 attempts and Forest Park hitting eight but missing 10.
The Raiders are on the road for the next three games, including the Cedar Run District opener at Battlefield on Dec. 18 before returning home to host Osbourn Park on Dec. 20.