The Heritage boys varsity basketball team used defense to propel it to its fourth region victory of the year Friday night at home, limiting visiting Winder-Barrow to 11 combined points in the second and third quarters of a 61-41 win.
Heritage’s hustle on the offense glass led to 16 second-chance points, while its defense down low blocked six Bulldogg shots in the 20-point victory.
Heritage head coach Ralph Denmark said the Patriots’ defensive intensity picked up after Heritage allowed 13 points in the first quarter.
“Our defense is something that we always pride ourselves on,” Denmark said. “It’s one of the keys to our team. We were able to hold them to 19 points in the first half, and that was great, but we can still get better. We still have work to do.”
Rashad Jones led the Patriots with 14 points, one of three Heritage players to finish in double figures, scoring eight points in the third quarter alone to lead the Patriots to victory.
After both teams scored 13 points apiece in the opening period of play, Heritage outscored the Bulldoggs 19-6 in the second quarter to open up a 13-point lead.
Heritage scored the period’s opening five points on a Terrell Rainey 3-point play and a Makyle Wilkerson put-back layup before Winder-Barrow scored its first basket of the period with 3:35 to go in the half.
The Bulldogs cut the Patriots’ lead to 25-19 on a CeCe Green free throw, but Heritage scored the final seven points of the quarter on a pair of jumpers from San Marteen Rozier and a Jordan Thomas 3-pointer from the right corner with 13 second left in the period. The 7-0 scoring run gave Heritage a 32-19 advantage heading into the break.
Heritage scored six second-chance points in the second quarter, matching the Bulldogs’ total quarter output.
“Our offense rebounding is a credit to our seniors,” Denmark said. “Our forwards worked really hard on the boards tonight. I tell our guys all the time that when shots aren’t falling, being active on the offensive glass may be the easiest way to get a good shot.”
Jones heated up in the third quarter, scoring eight consecutive points after Andre Harris opened up the Patriots’ scoring in the quarter with a field goal with 6:29 to go in the period. Jones hit a pair of shot from beyond the arc, while draining a pull-up jumper from the right elbow to push the Patriots’ lead to 42-22.
Heritage limited the Bulldogs to five points in the quarter, extending its advantage to 46-24 at the end of the period on a thunderous Isaiah Banks dunk off a feed from JaDarius Smith.
Winder-Barrow outscored the Patriots 17-15 in the second half, but Heritage held on for the region victory, ending its scoring on a Brandon Roberts pull-up jumper with 29 seconds to go in the game.
Thomas added 14 points for the Patriots in the win, while Banks finished with 10 to join Jones in double figures.
Ryan Evans was the lone Bulldogg to score in double figures with 10 points.
Denmark said the Patriots played well despite a rivalry game with Rockdale County on the horizon.
“Our focus tonight was on Winder,” he said. “It’s a region game, and we wanted to make sure that we came in and continued to do well in the region first and foremost. Now that this one is over, we can look ahead to Rockdale and see what we can do to piece together a game plan against a very talented team.”
The Patriots will take on Rockdale County Saturday at home at 6 p.m.