The Heritage boys varsity basketball team dropped its first game of the season Tuesday night on the road, falling 67-62 to Clarke Central in region play.
The loss drops the Patriots to 5-1 overall, while the Gladiators kept their perfect 4-0 record alive.
Rashad Jones and Andre Harris finished in double figures for the Patriots, with Jones finishing with 16 points on a 50 percent shooting night from the field. Harris added 14 points for the Patriots.
Jones also finished with a team-high seven rebounds, while Trevor Campbell grabbed six boards in the loss.
Heritage coach Ralph Denmark said the Gladiators’ pressure defense caused the Patriots problems early on.
“They played some pressure well early on in the game, and it took us a little while to get focused,” Denmark said. “They are a very mature and aggressive team and presented us with some looks we hadn’t seen in-game before.”
Clarke Central outscored the Rams 23-18 in the first quarter before carrying a 39-32 advantage into the break.
Heritage outscored Clarke Central 18-10 in the final quarter of play, but Patriots come back fell short before they could erase the lead the Gladiators built up over the first 24 minutes of play.
“Honestly, we didn’t play well for three quarters,” Denmark said. “We woke up in the fourth and we were able to cut into the lead, but the environment kind of shocked us a bit. We took too long to wake up.”
Cameron Johnson led Clarke Central with 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting with 10 rebounds. The Gladiators Leroy Legette and Donavin Thompson finished with 18 and 13 points, respectively.
The Patriots will look to get back on track Friday night against Loganville. The Red Devils are 4-2 overall.
“I hope that after the loss, we have learned that regardless of the situation, we need to do what we’ve worked on and stay a little bit more focused,” Denmark said. “Loganville is an athletic team and they have good guard play. We have to defend well against them. It’s going to be a battle.”
Game time against Loganville is set for 8:30 p.m.