High School Sports

Heritage’s boys and girls basketball teams pull out thrilling wins against Leesville Road

The Heritage Huskies swept a basketball doubleheader Friday night against the Leesville Road Pride in dramatic fashion.

In the girls’ basketball game, the Huskies pulled out a 40-39 win to remain unbeaten and send the Pride to its first loss of the season.

Thirty-two minutes wasn’t enough for the boys’ teams, as Heritage outlasted Leesville 76-75in triple overtime.

Huskies go to 3 OTs to win

In the third overtime, Heritage trailed by two with just 14 seconds left when Jayden Gardner completed a three-point play after finishing at the rim. He calmly stepped to the line and knocked down the free throw, giving his team a one-point lead. Leesville came down but missed its final shot in the paint to end the game.

“Every game I feel like he is growing up. We want him to be a better defender. When he gets the ball in the post, I feel so confident he’s going to score. The array of moves he has around the rim, it’s really a sight to see,” Huskies coach Tilden Brill of Gardner said.

Heritage (7-0, 1-0 Cap-8) opened its conference season on a high note. The Huskies trailed by three at halftime as the Pride defense held Gardner to just two points. He found his groove in the second half and overtimes to finish with a game-high 24.

“We just had to get him the dang ball. With a guy like that, we have to feed the post a little bit more. With the way that he’s able to score, we got to design some more ways to get him the ball,” Brill said.

The Pride (3-4, 0-1 Cap-8) are now 0-2 in overtime games, having lost to Apex back in November.

Leesville never led in the overtimes until Alex Hunter hit two free throws with 1:50 left in the third overtime to give Leesville a 73-71 lead. Two possessions later, Heritage tied it up with a bucket from Jarren McAllister with a minute left. Leesville came right back with two more free throws from Jonathan Mebane to give the Pride a 75-73 lead. Then it was Gardner’s bucket 30 seconds left to seal the victory for the Huskies.

Heritage’s girls also undefeated

On the girls’ side, Heritage found itself in a tight contest as well. In a back-and-forth game, neither team had a lead larger than seven points.

Alcenia Purnell turned in a huge defensive game, forcing a steal and finishing the play with a layup at the other end to give her team a 40-36 lead with 35 seconds left in the game.

Leesville kept it interesting with Kelly Funderburk’s 3-ball. The Pride forced a turnover with good pressure, but Purnell came up with another steal to ice the game with under 10 seconds to play.

“We knew (Purnell) was a lockdown defender,” Huskies coach Pat Kennedy said. “What she is doing is getting better offensively. When she puts that whole package together, she’s a special player. She’s tough. That girl is one of the toughest players we have. That shows in a gritty, defensive stop at the end.”

Purnell finished with eight points, Cydney Johnson had a game-high 12, and Kaven Joyner and Taylor Hughes had six apiece to keep the Huskies (7-0, 1-0 Cap-8) unbeaten.

The Pride (6-1, 0-1 Cap-8) dropped its first game of the season.

The Pride took the lead with two minutes left in the fourth quarter when Shea Plocharczyk knocked down a 3, which started a back-and-forth scoring spree from both offenses.

With her team trailing by one, Joyner hit a two-point basket for the Huskies, followed by two points from Ashley Gill. Alana Brown hit a 3 with a just over a minute left to give the Huskies a two point lead. Then came Purnell’s steal and layup to hand Leesville.

“It’s great. It’s good experience for all the players on the court,” Kennedy said. “I know (Leesville) has a couple young players; we have a lot of young players. So it’s good experience toward the end, learning how to close out a game. I don’t think both teams executed very well. I think it was more of a gutsy win; both teams probably playing below what they were capable of, but that’s probably because of nerves and it being the first game of the Cap-8 (Conference).”