CONYERS - Heritage boys basketball coach Ron Bradley hopes his team learned some valuable lessons Tuesday night against visiting Chamblee.
The Patriots (6-3), who trailed the entire second half, still had a chance to win the game with less than two minutes to play. But 14 missed free throws and two critical rebounding breakdowns in the final 1:30 allowed Chamblee (5-3) to escape with a 70-64 victory.
The Patriots also had 11 of their 16 turnovers in the second half.
"We just never could catch them. The free-throw line just killed us," Bradley said. "Chamblee played well, shot their free throws and shot a good percentage from the field. We chased them but could never catch them.
"Hopefully, we learned some things tonight that will help us down the road. The whole game was a good learning experience. We had people out of character, doing things that they shouldn't do."
Brandon O'Brien and Brandon Armstrong set the tone for Chamblee in the first half, combining for 18 of the Bulldogs' 30 first-half points. Chamblee owned a 30-26 lead at the half.
Shakeem Mitchell had 12 of his game-high 23 points in the first half for Heritage.
In the third quarter, Heritage's Mitchell scored back-to-back baskets to slice Chamblee's lead to 41-40. But the Bulldogs countered with 9-1 run to take a 52-45 advantage in the final quarter.
With 2:30 left in the game, the Bulldogs took their largest lead of the game at 64-52 on Marcus Cowan's layup.
However, Heritage fought back with a quick 7-0 run started by Blake Craft's 3-pointer. Juron Dobbs hit a 3-foot banker off the glass, and Craft closed the by hitting two of three free throws after picking up a foul while attempting another trey.
In the final 1:10, Chamblee missed the front ends of two one-and-ones, but each time, with four players in rebounding position, Heritage failed to come up with the crucial caroms.
"They missed free throws twice and got the ball back, and that just kills you when you're trying to come back," Bradley said. "When you've got four players there and you can't get the ball, you're in trouble. It was rough, but we've got to learn from it and try to get a little better."
Dobbs added 13 points for the Patriots. Key Wade contributed 12 points and five assists before fouling out. Justin Jones, who also fouled out, chipped in 10 points and nine rebounds.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.