Saturday afternoon the Heritage Patriots boys varsity basketball team hosted the Rockdale County Bulldogs, defeating their rivals 71-66 in a heavily contested game.
Terrell Rainey led the Bulldogs with 14 points, one of four Patriots in double figures, and Heritage head coach Ralph Denmark won his first game over his former school for Heritage’s ninth win of the season.
“I’m proud of how we fought back, but they’re mentally sharper than us right now,” Bulldogs coach Alen Williams said.
The game began with both sides exchanging buckets, but the Patriots ended the quarter on a 6-0 run and took a 25-16 lead into the second quarter.
The second quarter saw the Patriots come out on fire, starting the period on a 9-0 run, led by Rainey.
“I could speak about his game, but I can’t say enough about hmi,” Denmark said. “He comes in and he works hard. He’s the glue that holds us together.”
Despite the huge deficit, the Bulldogs kept fighting. A 3-pointer and mid-range jump shot from junior guard Conner Ferrell cut the 18-point deficit down to 12.
The Patriots got back to business after Rainey caught an alley-oop pass that gave momentum back to Heritage and the Patriots carried a 47-28 lead into halftime.
The third quarter began with Ferrell knocking down a 3-pointer, but the momentum remained with the Patriots, who held onto a 60-43 lead into the fourth quarter in a collective team effort.
The fourth quarter saw both teams exchange buckets at the start, but the Bulldogs got some momentum after cutting the deficit to just four points.
“If we didn’t get down by so much, we wouldn’t have to fight back (so hard),” Williams said.
After having their lead reduced to four, the Patriots brought it back up to five after a free throw make by Byron Adams. The Bulldogs responded with a layup, but the Patriots responded with a layup of their own by Rainey.
The Bulldogs continued to fight back, but in the end, the Patriots hung on to win the game 71-66 in a hard fought contest.
“We’re getting there,” Williams said. “We’re a young team, a very young team.”
Adams finished with 13 points, while Trevor Campbell (11), Andrew Harris (11) and Rashad Jones (10) also finished in double figures. Rainey also had a team-high eight rebounds in the win.
Ferrell finished with a game-high 22 points, while Jalen Jordan added 17 for the Bulldogs.
The Patriots return to action Monday when they will travel to Salem to take on the Seminoles.
“(The game against Salem) totally different,” Denmark said. “This is a rivalry game, but it also a region game. So it will be a totally different frame of mind.”