CONYERS - Heritage basketball split a pair of games against visiting Madison County on Tuesday night.
In boys action, Heritage won 44-39 in the waning seconds. Meanwhile, the Lady Patriots were handed a 61-31 blow.
Heritage 44, Madison County 39
Trailing 42-39 with 5.8 seconds left and possession of the ball, Madison County committed the ultimate blunder by calling a timeout when it did not have any.
After two made free throws by Shakeem Mitchell, Heritage had sealed its fate, snapping Madison's five-game winning streak.
"You hate for somebody to lose on a mental error, but I don't think they lost on a mental error," Heritage coach Ron Bradley said. "They certainly hurt themselves because they still had a chance to tie."
The Patriots (4-3) jumped out to a 15-8 lead after the opening quarter on three field goals by Miles Harris, who finished with 11 points, three steals and three blocks.
"They showed a lot of character in winning," Bradley said. "We didn't play as well as we'd liked to have played, but I thought Madison County was a much improved team over the past years. They gave us a battle. They've won some games this year and we felt like they were going to be a better team.
"But we have some places where we're still trying to improve; we've still got a lot of room for improvement."
After a bumpy second quarter in which Heritage scored just six points on 2 of 13 shooting, Madison (5-2) trailed 21-20 at halftime.
"I felt pretty good about where we were after the first quarter," Bradley said. "It was in the second quarter that we got a little sluggish."
But Heritage forced five turnovers in the third quarter while committing just one. And thanks to a 3-pointer by Harris with 35 seconds left in the third, the Patriots led 34-29.
"Most all the guys handled the ball pretty good," Bradley said of his team's 13 turnovers.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Ben Morris and Seth Fleming late in the fourth quarter cut the deficit to 38-37. However, Heritage's Justin Jones found the rim for two to extend the lead.
With 40.5 seconds remaining, a layup and foul by Chad Griffeth made it 40-39. After the missed free throw, Madison controlled possession with 16.2 seconds left, only to turn it over to Heritage and was forced to foul.
Off the missed one-and-one, Mitchell grabbed the offensive rebound and tipped it in, extending the lead to 42-39 with 5.8 ticks remaining.
Mitchell finished with a game-high 18 points and six rebounds.
It was at this time Madison called for its supposed final timeout, thus sending Mitchell to the free-throw line where he calmly sank both shots.
"I've tried to figure out what happened," Bradley said. "Their scorekeeper told the coach and referee they had no more timeouts; all of a sudden that's expensive. Of course, they never scored again. We were ahead at that time, so you can't say they would have won the game because they had a couple of chances there and none of them produced points."
Jones finished with eight points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. Heritage's Twon Wade had a team-high four assists.
Fleming led the Red Raiders with 10 points. Griffeth, Morris and Reterrium Davis added five apiece.
Madison County 61,
Madison won its sixth game of the year after taking advantage of a depleted Heritage squad riddled with injuries.
"We're banged up," Heritage coach Dave LaBarrie admitted. "One's out for probably the season. (We) had several play sick, so we're kind of banged up right now."
Madison's Courtney Freeman scored a game-high 16 points. Her sister, Kayla Freeman, added 13.
"I played everybody, so they got some experience," LaBarrie said. "The biggest thing is I play for the tournament at the end of the season."
Sarah Herrington led the Lady Patriots (2-4) with 14 points.
Jason Murdock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.