By Tommy Keeler Jr.
QUICKSBURG -- With leading scorer Colton Harlow sidelined with an injury, Stonewall Jackson's boys basketball team had to come together against Buffalo Gap on Friday night.
With the game on the line, the Generals did everything they needed to as they pulled out a 67-61 Shenandoah District overtime win over the Bison.
"I thought that when we needed to execute, we executed," Stonewall Jackson coach Patrick Smoot said. "Down the stretch in overtime, we ran our offense, we finished the shots we should finish, and we hit our foul shots. And I think that's the bottom line, we executed when we needed to."
Harlow had 16 of the Generals' 32 first-half points as they had a 32-23 edge. The senior guard left the game with 38 seconds left in the first half with a right foot injury and did not return.
The Bison took advantage early in the third period using a 18-8 run to take a 41-40 lead with 2:55 left in the first half.
"When [Harlow] went down we obviously lost a lot on the court, but those guys, they pulled together," Smoot said. "At first it was a little bit of a shock, but they worked together. They did what they needed to and they pulled that out, and that shows you how good this team is because it's not just one guy."
The Generals (7-9, 3-7 Shenandoah) responded with a basket by Leo Galindez and a 3-pointer by freshman Ian Pugh to take a 45-41 lead.
The Bison went on a 7-0 spurt to take a 48-45 lead with 6:52 left, but the Generals responded with an 8-0 run.
Corey Polk had four points during the run, and finished with eight of his game-high 21 points in the fourth.
"I knew I would have to [score more] with [Harlow] out, with him not pitching in his buckets," Polk said. "I knew I'd have to start stepping up more and scoring."
Yet another run by Buffalo Gap gave them a 55-53 lead with 3:15 left, but Polk answered with a basket inside the paint to tie the game.
A Ryan Smith free throw and a 3-pointer by Pugh gave the Generals a 59-57 edge with 1:56 remaining in regulation. Two free throws by Buffalo Gap's Nick Rodeffer tied the game at 59-59. The 6-foot-3 Polk again scored inside, but the Bison answered with a basket by Scott Kiser to send the game into overtime.
The Generals' defense stepped up in overtime as they held the Bison scoreless.
"That's one of the things our coach always preaches to us, but he definitely preached to us there in the overtime, that we couldn't let them have any open looks," Polk said. "We had to be on every loose ball and everything, and I'd say we did that pretty well."
Polk gave the Generals a 63-61 lead with another basket inside the paint with 2:41 left in overtime. The Bison went 0-for-10 from the field in overtime.
Smith closed out the game for the Generals by making four free throws in the final 38 seconds.
"I just knew I had to knock them down to seal the win," Smith said. "I just try to get in a rhythm, and after I hit that first one, just try to keep it going."
The Bison were led by Matt Woods with 21 points, while Trevor Chittum had 13.
Smith finished with 10 points, and Pugh had eight.
The Generals entered the game having lost nine of their last 12 games, but the win over the Bison could be the start of a turnaround for the squad.
"I think we'll bounce pretty good after this," Polk said. "We just gotta keep playing like we did tonight. We can't let up any at all, it's too late in the season, and you can't afford to do that. We got to keep on working hard."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org