As the final horn of regulation sounded with Broughton and Heritage deadlocked at 54, Huskies coach Tilden Brill gathered his team on the bench and delivered a simple message.
Clapping his hands with extra enthusiasm, Brill looked each of his players in the eye and told them there was “no chance like a second chance.”
Heritage took advantage of its second chance, defeating Broughton 66-59 in overtime.
The Huskies knocked down free throws, but more importantly, controlled the boards, something they didn’t do in the second half of regulation. During one timeout in the fourth quarter, Brill grilled his team, telling them they had to rebound better if they expected to win the game.
They snapped out of their funk just when it looked as if Broughton would steal one.
“I think (we) just played with a toughness,” Brill said. “I looked at them during one time-out and they looked down and I didn’t know if they had it in them to finish this game out. To come out in that overtime, I thought they showed a lot of mental toughness to be able to do that on the road.”
Trailing by three in regulation after two free throws from Caps’ guard Tharon Suggs (team-high 16 points), the Huskies got the ball back and drew up a play for Colton Reed. Reed found himself all alone on the wing and calmly knocked down a triple, sending the game into overtime.
“Coach had me set up in the corner,” Reed said. “Thayer (Thomas) drew the defender in and made a great read. He kicked it out and everyone had confidence in me and I had confidence in myself. I was able to knock it down and it felt great. I could tell once it left my hand that it was going in.”
Reed finished with 13 points, but his triple not only sent the game into OT, but it gave the Huskies newfound energy.
In overtime, the game came down to the basics for Heritage - rebounding and executing. Those two factors played right into the hands of Huskies’ center Jayden Gardner, who finished with a game-high 22 points.
“We didn’t execute like we wanted to in the fourth,” Gardner said. “Coach told us to rebound, be aggressive and execute our plays. And we did. We hopped on them early.”
With the win, Heritage secures the No. 2 seed in the Cap-8. Broughton will be the No. 3 seed.
“This is the place where the Cap-8 tournament is going to be,” Brill said. “I wanted them to come out with that intensity. We wanted to approach this like a playoff game.”
Heritage had four players in double-figures with Jarren McAllister (11) and Dante Williams (10) complementing Gardner and Reed. Aaron Gottfried finished with 11 for Broughton, while Jack Hemphill added 10.
Huskies lock up second-place finish
Heritage wanted to finish strong. Not only the regular season, but the fourth quarter of its contest versus Broughton.
The Huskies did so in a 54-43 win over the Capitals. Heritage (20-4, 11-3) used a 20-point fourth quarter to get some separation from Broughton, and did itself a favor in the Cap-8 standings. With the win, the Huskies will do no worse than a tie for second place as the regular season comes to an end.
“That second seed is huge for state playoffs and trying to get a home game,” Heritage coach Pat Kennedy said. “We knew the importance of it. We knew that Broughton on their senior night and a chance to make the playoffs was going to play hard. We wanted to match that energy, and I thought we did a great job with that.”
Heritage jumped out to a commanding 9-0 lead in the first quarter. Broughton didn’t get its first field goal until the 3:18 mark, a layup from Jada Smith, but the Huskies knocked down two triples to take a 16-7 lead into the second.
“Sometimes you have to learn how to close games out,” Kennedy said. “I thought we did a great job of closing the game out. When you can put the ball in Alissa Smalls’ hands at the end of games … she makes good decisions.”
Smalls led all scorers with 21 points. She got help from backcourt mate Cydney Johnson, who finished with 11. Only four Broughton players scored, led by sharp shooting senior Katie Wadsworth, who finished with 18.
“She’s been a good shooting all along, we knew that” Kennedy said about Wadsworth. “They ran some good stuff for her, and she can shoot it. She’s been doing it for the last couple of years. That’s no surprise for us.”
Jada Smith added 11 for the Caps and Brittney Smith finished with 10.