Generals’ Fowler wins in debut
QUICKSBURG – With Stonewall Jackson’s boys basketball team locked in an overtime tie with five seconds remaining against visiting Rappahannock County Tuesday night, Generals first-year coach David Fowler didn’t need to draw up on offensive play on his clipboard during the game’s final timeout. He knew he wanted the ball in the hands of junior guard Kaelan Sorrells.
The Generals’ inbound pass from half-court went directly to Sorrells, who then raced up the middle of the court directly into the heart of the Panthers’ defense.
As Sorrells slashed into the paint, he picked up his dribble and plowed through contact with a Rappahannock defender, floating a shot toward the basket as a whistle blew for a blocking foul. Sorrells’ shot fell through the net with 0.7 seconds remaining, and he added the ensuing free throw for good measure as Stonewall Jackson picked up a 67-64 overtime victory in Fowler’s debut, matching the Generals’ win total from a season ago.
“Kind of looking for either an open shot, a jump shot or whatever, but when I drove I knew that I had the opening. I just took it,” said Sorrells, who finished with a game-high 21 points and seven rebounds.
Sorrells’ game-winning shot capped a pivotal overtime performance for the junior, who scored the final 9 of Stonewall’s 11 points in the extra frame as the Generals’ rallied from a 64-60 deficit with 2:30 remaining.
All of Sorrells’ overtime buckets came in the paint, twice as he used a spin move in the lane to open a shooting alley.
“That’s who we need Kaelan to be,” Fowler said. “Kaelan is our slasher. We have a lot of guys that wanna shoot the ball, a lot of guys that can shoot the ball but we need Kaelan to draw (the defense) in. … We need him to attack the rim.”
Just like in the final period, it was Sorrells who gave the Generals (1-0) a boost in the first quarter. He scored 8 points as Stonewall built a 20-13 at the end of the first frame, but he got slapped with his second foul in the final 10 seconds of the opening period and sat out the rest of the first half.
The Generals managed to maintain their lead throughout the rest of the first half, although the Panthers (0-1) did cut Stonewall’s lead to a point with three minutes left in the second period on a bucket by Gavin Jenkins (19 points). The Generals pushed the lead back to 28-21 after a 3-pointer by Nick Dotson and three free throws by Brendan Hoover before Rappahannock County closed the half on a run and went into halftime trailing Stonewall 32-30 after Jenkins rattled in a trey in the final seconds of the quarter.
“I think we ran our stuff for the most part,” Fowler said. “We got out of it a little bit. … Emotions got involved some, guys got excited. Obviously they haven’t won a lot around here but they got an opportunity to be in one and their emotions took over a bit sometimes. But I think that was the biggest thing, we ran our stuff, it kept us in it and as long as we’re in it I think we have a shot because of our fatigue factor.”
Rappahannock County cut the Generals’ lead to a single possession on multiple occasions in the third quarter and finally erased a 48-40 deficit with a 7-0 run to end the period. The Panthers took their first lead of the night when Alexander Palmer (13 points, 13 rebounds) hit a bucket early in the fourth quarter to put Rapp up 49-48.
The Panthers took a 56-53 lead with 3:40 to play on a stickback by Jenkins, but Stonewall – which only hit one field goal in the fourth quarter – would hold Rappahannock County scoreless for the rest of regulation while getting a fast-break layup by Sorrells and a free throw by Dotson (6 points, 11 rebounds) to tie the game and send it into overtime.
Stonewall Jackson, which hit 31.7 percent (20 of 63) of its shots, used a fast pace on offense the entire night.
“The guys can complain about conditioning all the time but we spend over an hour a day on that because that goes with what we need to be,” Fowler said. “And I explained to them, I said, ‘Guys we wouldn’t have been in the game at the end there if we weren’t well conditioned.'”
Hoover and Dylan Davis finished with 13 points apiece while finishing with eight and seven rebounds, respectively.
Rappahannock County shot just 29.2 percent (21 for 72) from the floor, hit only 9 of 22 free throws and turned the ball over 18 times in the loss, but the Panthers did hold a 62-46 advantage on the boards.
“We didn’t rebound and I think that gave them every opportunity to stay in it,” Fowler said. “I don’t wanna take anything away from Rappahannock because we’re not in any position to say that either but I think we probably could’ve won by a lot more if we would’ve got on the glass, and that’s just something we didn’t do. So we’ll be in the gym tomorrow and we’ll be working on boxing out and getting on the glass.”
Fowler praised the Generals’ effort on Tuesday night, adding that it’s been the focus since the team’s first day of practice.
“We’re not gonna walk in and out-talent anybody, so effort from day one and I think they came out and all the effort they’ve been putting in since day one they put it in tonight,” Fowler said. “That’s really where we got the win from.”
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org