Stone Bridge 59, Loudoun County 55
Stone Bridge senior Eric Pearson missed all six shots he attempted in the first half of Friday night's game at Loudoun County, but the 6-foot-2 guard never lost his confidence.
After halftime, Pearson scored all of his team-high 23 points to lead the Bulldogs to a 59-55 overtime victory over the Raiders in a AA Dulles District contest. Pearson made 5 of 7 three-point attempts in the second half and overtime and six of his 10 free-throw attempts. He also accounted for 11 of the Bulldogs' 13 overtime points.
"Never stop shooting; that's just what I think," Pearson said. "Coaches tell me to keep shooting no matter what."
Pearson's fifth three-pointer, with less than two minutes to play in overtime, gave Stone Bridge (4-7, 2-3) its first lead of the game, at 54-53. With 1 minute 16 seconds to play, he hit the second of two free throws to give the Bulldogs a two-point advantage, but Loudoun County freshman Patrick Behan scored on a putback to tie the score at 55 with a minute remaining.
Stone Bridge turned the ball over, but senior guard Sean Williams got it back and scored to give the Bulldogs a 57-55 lead. Loudoun County (3-6, 0-4) had a chance to tie, but Stone Bridge senior Derrick Navas (14 points, nine rebounds) slid in front of the Raiders' Eddie Hogan (five points, seven assists) and took a charge. Williams then knocked down two free throws with 15 seconds left to put away the game.
"We've been losing close contests, game after game," said Stone Bridge Coach Mark Alexander. "For a third-year program, there's going to be some close games, and you just have to start learning how to win them. This is kind of big for us to give us some confidence that, in close games, we can win."
Stone Bridge made 5 of 24 shots from the field and committed 13 turnovers in the first half, but the Bulldogs trailed by just six. Loudoun County increased its lead to 34-24 late in the third quarter, thanks to nine straight points from Behan. The 6-5 forward carried Loudoun County in stretches and finished with a game-high 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting.
Just as the Raiders seemed ready to pull away, however, Pearson drained two straight three-pointers and then made an unselfish play to cap an 8-0 run. With time winding down in the third quarter, senior Mike Bishop grabbed a defensive rebound and found Pearson with about three seconds remaining. Pearson dribbled to half court, but instead of launching a shot he zipped a pass to Navas at the foul line. Navas just beat the buzzer with a touch shot to cut the Raiders' lead to two.
"Coach told us at halftime that this game would determine our season, so we had to step it up," Pearson said. "We're a good team; we've just got to get to the next level."