The Heritage boys and the Millbrook girls, each regular-season champions in the Cap-8 after posting perfect conference records, came up short in a pair of thrillers in the finals of the league basketball tournament Friday night at Broughton’s Holliday Gymnasium.
Riding the hot hand of Patrick Dorsey, Millbrook handed Heritage its first loss of the season, 57-54.
In the girls contest, Demi Washington sank the second of two free throws with three-tenths of a second remaining in the second overtime to lift Heritage to a 52-51 victory over defending state 4A champion Millbrook.
Dorsey scored a game-high 24 points, including 11 in the final quarter. He sank a pair of free throws with six seconds left to give Millbrook a 57-54 advantage. Heritage did not get a shot off in the final seconds when Colton Reed stepped out of bounds before trying a 3 to tie it.
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“It feels really good,” Dorsey said of finally breaking through against Heritage (26-1), which defeated the Wildcats three times this season before Friday’s game. “It was a great overall team effort. We were playing without our point guard tonight and we were still able to get it done.”
Collin Lewis added 15 points for the Wildcats (20-7).
Heritage was led by Jayden Gardner with 22 points and Jarren McAllister added 16.
The Heritage girls (23-3) built a 13-point first-half lead over Millbrook (24-3), but still needed overtime to fend off the Wildcats.
Washington and Alana Brown had 12 points each to lead the Huskies.
Millbrook got 19 points from Andreal Bass and 12 each from Sis Norman and Kai Crutchfield.
The old adage says it’s difficult to defeat a team three times in a season. Millbrook wasn’t about to let Heritage get the best of them for a fourth time.
“It feels really good for the guys,” Millbrook coach Scott McInnes said of his team’s 57-54 victory over the previously unbeaten Huskies in the finals of the Cap-8 tournament. “They’ve been working hard and getting better and better. Tonight our defense down the stretch was really, really solid.”
Patrick Dorsey, who led Millbrook with a game-high 24 points, doesn’t think his team has peaked yet.
“I don’t think we’ve reached our peak yet,” Dorsey said. “We are getting better, just getting better and have won (six) games in a row. We just beat a really good team. I really like our chances going into the (state) tournament.”
For Heritage, its first loss came at a time when it can keep playing. A loss in the state tournament and the season’s over.
“If there ever was a good time to lose, I think it’s right now,” Heritage coach Tilden Brill said. “It makes you refocus, makes you re-evaluate and I think it gets guys hungry again. We’ve being doing some things that I think we have been getting away with. Now we have two practices to get it right before our first game on Tuesday.”
The Huskies were playing without 6-foot-5 senior forward Ian Hinkley, who was out with sprained ankle. Brill said he expected Hinkley back Tuesday.
Heritage’s Demi Washington stepped to the free throw line with three-tenths of a second remaining in the second overtime of the Cap-8 girls championship game. The score was tied at 51 and Washington had a pair of chances to put away the Millbrook Wildcats.
The first free throw rimmed out and Washington got a little nervous.
“I was just praying and hoping that (the second free) would go in,” Washington said. “I did the same thing I do everytime and just prayed that it would go it. And it did. I was just so happy.”
The free throw lifted Heritage to a 52-51 victory over Millbrook, the defending 4A champion. The two team split four meetings this season. Heritage defeated Millbrook in the final of the John Wall holiday tournament and lost both regular-season conference games to the Wildcats.
Millbrook fell behind by 13 points in the first half but battled back. Conference player of the year Kai Crutchfield did not have a point in the opening half but finished with 12.
“Every time we play Heritage we haven’t come out strong at all,” Millbrook coach Chris East said. “That’s probably on the coaches. It was a great game as far as a high school basketball game.
“The positive about this game are the things that we did not do well tonight are correctable. It’s disappointing. I really wanted it for the seniors.”