Heritage's defense has been its staple all season, and that didn't change in the team's opening region tournament game against the Lanier Longhorns as the Patriots beat Lanier 55-46.
The game was all Heritage in the first. Despite Lanier's efforts to get the ball to its big man, Derrick Brown, Heritage's defense held and fronted Brown and helped on lob passes all night. Rashad Jones was especially good on defense, as he played great on-ball defense on Lanier sharpshooter Adrian Martin following him around the court and sticking with Martin off screens.
The Patriots led 15-7 after the first, but in the second quarter Heritage's offense couldn't find its rhythm and it showed. Lanier managed to outscore Heritage 18-10 in the period to go into halftime tied at 25.
Heritage head coach Vernon Denmark must have gave his team a fiery halftime speech because the Patriots came out scorching. The Pats' went on a 13-0 run coming out the break, capped off by a three from Jones that prompted a Lanier timeout. The Longhorns would score six straight points before the Patriots ended the quarter on a 4-0 run.
Up 11 in the fourth, the Patriots cruised to victory despite a strong effort from Lanier that saw them get as close as four points before Heritage's defense forced turnovers and prompted another scoring run.
Isaiah Banks led Heritage with 14 points and Jordan Thomas was right behind him with 13 points, unofficially. Heritage will play Apalachee Friday 8:30 p.m. at Salem.