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Lady Patriots lose heartbreaker
Heritage forward Alexis Hawkins goes in for a layup against Winder-Barrow Friday night. The Lady Patriots fell 33-28 to the visiting Lady Bulldoggs. - photo by Darrell Everidge

Still seeking its first win of the 2013-2014 season, the Heritage girls varsity basketball team came close to tasting victory Friday night, but surrendered a fourth-quarter lead to visiting Winder-Barrow, falling 33-29 in Region 8-AAAAA action.

Damali Thomas led the Lady Patriots with 15 points, including 10 points in the third quarter, helping Heritage build a 22-20 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Lady Patriots led by as many as three in the final period, but the Lady Bulldoggs’ Tiera Mayweather scored eight unanswered points during the quarter, giving Winder-Barrow its first lead since 2:30 in the first quarter.

Heritage turned the ball over eight times in the final four minutes of play and was unable to capitalize on opportunities around the rim when it needed them the most.

“We cut down on our turnovers, but we couldn’t finish,” Heritage coach Lauren Chambers said. “We couldn’t make a layup tonight. If we could have hit those easy shots around the basket, then we would have had a comfortable lead in the fourth.

“We have to learn how to finish and we have to learn how to win,” she said. “We kept them in the ball game, and by doing that we gave them room to breathe and come back. When you let them back in the ball game and make mistakes, they come back to hurt you, and they did tonight.”

With a slim two-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter, the Lady Patriots extended their advantage to 24-21 after a pair of Thomas free throws with 4:19 left in the contest. Thomas’ foul shots were the last points for Heritage until 50 second to go in the game, as Winder-Barrow went on an 8-0 run during the Lady Patriots’ scoring drought.

Mayweather scored all eight of the Lady Bulldoggs’ points during the run, hitting a pair of 3-pointers from the left wing and a step-back jumper in the lane to secure of 29-24 Winder-Barrow lead.

A Lakeisha Hall layup with 40 seconds to go sealed the win for the visiting Bulldoggs, as Heritage went scoreless from the floor in the quarter, scoring all six fourth-quarter points from the foul line.

Heritage led for much of the game, building up an 8-4 advantage after the first quarter. Winder-Barrow flipped the score on the Lady Patriots in the second quarter, as both teams went into halftime tied 12-12.

Heritage and Winder-Barrow combined for 37 first-half turnovers, but the Lady Patriots’ offense began to click in the third period.

Thomas scored all 10 of the Lady Patriots third quarter points after halftime, hitting three shots from the floor while going a perfect 4-of-4 from the charity stripe, outscoring the Lady Bulldoggs 10-8 in the quarter.

No Lady Bulldogs scored in double figures in the win, but five players scored five or more points, including Shea Mayweather, who finished with a team-high nine points. Tiera Mayweather finished with eight.

Alexis Hawkins finished with a team-high seven rebounds in the loss, but fouled out with 5:24 to go in the game, leaving the Lady Patriots without an inside presence after losing forward Akila Murray to injury earlier in the contest.

Heritage hopes to rebound after the loss Saturday at home against rival Rockdale County.