Visiting Clarke Central swept the Heritage girls and boys varsity basketball teams at home Friday night, handing the Lady Patriots a 77-56 loss before toppling the boys team 87-47.
Damali Thomas led the Lady Patriots with a career-high 32-point effort, and Heritage trailed just nine after the third quarter.
Clarke Central poured on 27 points in the final period of play, outscoring the Lady Patriots by 12 over the final eight minutes.
Heritage coach Lauren Chambers said that the effort was one of the best the Lady Patriots had put forth this season.
“I think this was one of our best efforts of the season,” Chambers said. “They came out and I think they were stunned with how we hung with them. This type of effort shows that we can play with the teams in our region and that we’re a team to be reckoned with.”
Chambers said the Lady Patriots’ defensive effort looked good until Heritage tried catching up with Clarke Central towards the end of the contest.
“We hung in there until we had to start fouling,” she said. “Three of our girls fouled out at the end of the game and early fouls in the first half caught up with us. We forced a lot of turnovers and our defense looked good for much of the game.”
Clarke Central led 23-15 after the first quarter, but Heritage trimmed the lead to four at halftime, trailing 41-37 at the break.
“We’re getting better each day,” Chambers said. “We are improving. We’re finishing our layups, hitting free throws and we’re competing. Come region tournament time, who knows? It only takes one opportunity to get into the state playoffs.”
Gladiators trample Patriots
The Heritage boys varsity basketball team dropped its third consecutive gave Friday night, falling by 40 to Clarke Central.
The Patriots trailed by just four after the first quarter, but the Gladiators outscored Heritage 25-11 in the second quarter and 30-15 in the third quarter to take a 68-35 lead into the final period of play.
In the fourth, Heritage held Clarke Central to 19 points, but scored just 12 in the quarter, falling 87-47.
“Last night we ran up on a good team in Clarke Central,” Heritage coach Ralph Denmark said. “They were a much better team than first time we played them. They really have it clicking now and they’re going to be a tough team for anyone to match up with now.”
Denmark said that Clarke Central has really come together with their team-ball mentality.
“They really have gotten down the concept of a team,” Denmark said. “They share the ball, they’re not concerned about whose scoring or who’s taking shots and they move the ball offensively. They shot about 60 percent for most of the game and they do a very good job of running their offense.”
Denmark said the Gladiators are a program that he hopes to emulate in the region.
“First and foremost, what they have now is what we’re trying to get to,” he said. “They have seven or eight seniors that play well together. You always hope that a young team can stay together and get to that level. We want to accomplish the things that they are accomplishing this year.”
Isaiah Banks led Heritage with 11 points in the loss, while also grabbing five rebounds. San Marteen Rozier also had seven points for the Patriots. Terrell Rainey led Heritage with eight rebounds.
“We have a young team so I knew at some point we’d have a lapse,” Denmark said. “But, we’ve suffered three losses in a week and it’s time for us to get back on track against Loganville. We still have the opportunity to hold the No. 2 slot in the region, but we have to take care of business from here on out.”
Heritage returns to action Tuesday on the road at Loganville.