HURRICANE, W.Va. - You really can beat a good basketball team three times in a season, but that doesn't mean it's easy.Just ask the Hurricane Redskins.They downed Putnam County rival Winfield for the third time, scratching out a 57-53 overtime victory Saturday before an overflow crowd in the Redskins' gym. The Redskins (18-6) took the Class AAA Region 4 Section 1 title in the process, and will host Spring Valley (15-8) in a Region 4 co-final Tuesday for the second year in a row.The tough-luck Generals (14-10) must travel to No. 5 Huntington (19-4) for the other co-final, in what appears to be a substantially tougher assignment.
As it turns out, the four-point margin is the highest of the Redskins' three victories over their rivals this season. The previous scores were 64-62 and 63-61, the latter game also in overtime.In what he calls an act of stress relief, coach Lance Sutherland folds up the bench chairs and puts them on the rack himself after games. This time around, he might have wanted to sweep the floor as well."A typical Hurricane-Winfield game, the way it's been the past five games, six games, something like that," Sutherland said.In this contest, the biggest lead for either team was six points, which Winfield enjoyed four times. There were four ties and seven lead changes, most in the cliffhanger second half and overtime.Offensively, the game came down to Henry Sorsaia's 3-point goal with 2:22 left in overtime, which put the Redskins up for good at 52-51. The Generals went 1 for 6 after that, Garrett DeFries made four straight free throws and Sorsaia tacked on the game-icing foul shot with 12.4 seconds left.DeFries led the Redskins with 19 points, while Sorsaia had 10 of his 14 points in the final quarter and the extra period. DeFries had an eight-point third quarter as the Redskins took their first leads since going up 2-0 to start the game.Sorsaia's 3-point shot topped Winfield's overtime-starting bucket by Cole Schoolcraft. Scoring his other baskets inside, it was Sorsaia's only 3-point attempt of the game."The whole game I'd been driving to the basket, and they were standing off," Sorsaia said. "They'd been trying to take charges when I went to the basket. I noticed they had all dropped back and I knew I was going to take the shot. I wanted to take the shot, so I stepped back and took it."Winfield took a 24-20 halftime lead, forcing eight turnovers and committing only two. That flipped in the third quarter, as the Generals suffered six turnovers that helped Hurricane take a 36-33 lead.The teams swapped the lead four times midway through the fourth quarter, but the Generals used a 7-0 spurt to lead 48-44 with 2:25 left. The big plays were a catch-and-fire 3-pointer by Zach Fisher and Bear Bellomy's perfect pass to Heath Diehl for a layup.Sorsaia used a spin move to score inside and later split two free throws, but it was J.T. Rogoszewski who tied the game at 49 with two of his 13 points. That was a grinding, third-chance bucket by the bigger Redskins, who had 12 offensive rebounds to Winfield's four.
One of those might have given Winfield the lead with less than 10 seconds to go, but the rebounder hit the floor - Winfield partisans say he was thrown down by a taller Hurricane rebounder - and was called for walking.The Redskins had the ball with 5.4 seconds left, but never got a shot off. Taylor Hearn stole the ball to send the game to its fateful overtime.Fisher finished with 19 points and Bellomy 15 for the Generals, who were outshot 44.7 percent to 39.6 percent."We're just disappointed for our kids because they played their hearts out. They deserved to win," said Winfield coach Pat McGinnis. "Our effort was tremendous, and they had the ball last a couple of times more than we did. Our kids are crushed right now, but credit them, they beat us three times."But I think our guys proved that we deserve a shot at the [state] tournament, and we still have a shot."And McGinnis remembers his team cashing in once in the same situation, in the Generals' last state tournament appearance.
"In 2009, we lost to South Charleston when they were in this section," he said. "And ended up going to Spring Valley and winning, going to the state tournament."Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/Dougsmock.