By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
QUICKSBURG -- Stonewall Jackson's girls basketball team was faced with a near-impossible task.
Down by three points with just four seconds left to play in Friday's showdown with county rival Central, the Generals needed to drive the length of the court and hit a 3-pointer, all just to force overtime.
Generals point guard Michaela Koontz took the inbounds pass and pushed the ball quickly up the floor before dumping it off to senior Ashlie Clar.
Clar heaved a desperation 3-pointer from the left wing as time expired, and her teammates could only stand and watch as the ball seemed to hang in the air for minutes before it banged off the backboard and through the net to tie the game at 51-all.
"Me and Ashlie [Clar] just kind of looked at it," said Generals senior Cassie Conley. "And then we were like, 'That just went in.' Then we all ran over to Ashlie, screaming."
Stonewall Jackson used the bucket to fuel their fire in overtime, and produced some clutch free-throw shooting to eventually escape with a dramatic 63-56 home overtime win over the Falcons.
"I thought we really caught a lucky bounce there at the end [of the fourth quarter], and sometimes that happens," said Generals coach Jeff Burner. "I was really proud that our kids, after hitting the shot, got their emotions back together and played well in the overtime."
Stonewall Jackson (3-0), led by Clar's 20 points, took a 55-53 lead in overtime on a bucket in the paint from senior Keyana Phelps before Falcons sophomore Katelyn Poston answered with a trey to give Central a 56-55 advantage with 1:40 remaining.
Stonewall Jackson held Central scoreless the rest of the way, retaking the lead on another bucket from Phelps with 1:08 remaining.
The Generals iced the game by going 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final 30 seconds, including four huge free throws by 4-foot-10 freshman Emily Jordan with less than 20 seconds to go.
Jordan's effort from the line did not go unnoticed by her teammates.
"Emily is our shortest player, but she is not short of intensity," Conley said. "She gives her heart every game and that's what we're looking for. That's what we've got to have."
The loss was a heartbreaker for the Falcons, who trailed by 10 at halftime but were able to take a 46-45 lead with 1:15 remaining in the fourth quarter, Central's first lead since the six-minute mark of the opening period.
Central (2-3) was virtually carried by Poston in the fourth quarter as she scored 15 of the Falcons' 19 points in the period, including the layup that gave her team the lead with just over a minute to play. She finished with 23 points to lead all scorers.
"This is a really hard game to swallow because we got off to a rocky start, but our second half definitely picked us up," Poston said. "Hopefully next time we'll play a whole hard game -- I mean, we played a hard game, and it's just a hard loss."
"I love the fact that we're starting to battle back," said Falcons coach Stephanie Cooper. "Now we fight back until the end -- we did that at Skyline and we came out on top -- and we're starting to do that more, which is a sign of a growing team."