CONYERS - The Heritage basketball teams chalked up impressive victories over Winder-Barrow on Tuesday night.
In the boys game, the Patriots (5-4) held off a late rally by the Bulldoggs (6-2) to claim a 61-58 victory.
The Lady Patriots (4-5) jumped out to a big lead thanks to strong shooting in the first half and then kept the Lady Bulldoggs (5-3) at bay in the second half with clutch free-throw shooting.
Heritage 61, Winder-Barrow 58
The Patriots rode the strong play of senior center Justin Jones and senior forward Shakeem Mitchell to a 31-21 lead by the end of the first half.
Jones had 10 points, 15 rebounds and two blocked shots in the first half for Heritage, while Mitchell added 12 points, three boards and two assists.
In the third quarter, Mitchell ignited a 12-2 run with a 3-pointer from the right wing. Garry Peters finished off the scoring spree with an inside bucket as the Patriots took a 49-35 lead into the final frame.
But Winder-Barrow rallied in the fourth thanks in part to its press defense, which forced nine turnovers by the Patriots.
Back-to-back dunks by Mitchell and Chris Starling gave Heritage a 55-42 advantage with 4:23 to play.
After that, the Bulldoggs came storming back.
With 22.8 seconds left in the game, Twon Wade was whistled for a flagrant foul with Heritage clinging to a 59-57 lead.
Winder's Trent Demeritte made only one of the two free throws after the flagrant foul, and then the Bulldoggs missed both free throws after the possession.
Heritage's Mitchell hit two free throws with 7.2 seconds remaining to help ice the victory.
"That was a wild one, wasn't it?" Heritage coach Ron Bradley said. "When they missed one of the free throws, they had to play. If they had not missed the free throw, they would have either won or gone to overtime. We got a break when they missed the free throw and then we got another break when they didn't score.
"We had played a great game, and that would have been a crime for that one to have gotten away. We needed that win; it was a big one for us against a good basketball team."
Mitchell finished with a game-high 23 points for the Patriots, while Jones chipped in 18 points, 23 rebounds and three blocked shots. Peters added six points and 14 rebounds.
Heritage 59, Winder-Barrow 51
The Lady Patriots notched their second straight victory in Region 8-AAAA crossovers with a balanced offense that featured four players in double-figures.
Heritage shot 52 percent (13 of 25) from the field in the first half. The Lady Patriots opened the second with a 10-2 run, building a 24-13 advantage.
The Lady Bulldoggs battled their way back into the game in the second half, slicing the Heritage lead to 41-38 early in the fourth quarter.
Winder-Barrow was able to close the lead to 47-44 with 2:12 left in the contest.
But the Heritage girls delivered at the foul line down the stretch, sinking 9 of 12 shots from the charity strip to seal the victory.
In the second half, the Lady Patriots shot 85 percent (17 of 20) from the foul line. For the game, Heritage was 19 of 23 (82.6 percent).
"I was very happy with our effort. We were very disciplined, stayed within our game plan and gave it our all," Heritage coach Dave LaBarrie said. "We made sure that they worked hard on defense, and, with the effort they had to exert to come from behind, they did not have enough energy left."
Sarah Herrington paced the balanced scoring attack with 16 points, collecting eight points in each half.
Shaddai Wiggs added 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists. She was also a perfect 8-for-8 at the foul line.
Center Jana Dixon chipped in 10 points and a team-high 16 rebounds, while point guard Jasmine Middlebrooks added 10 points, four assists and three steals.
Anraya Palmer added seven points off the bench for Heritage, filling in for Giovanni Sims, who left the game early in the first quarter with an injury. LaBarrie said Sims will miss at least two weeks.
"I got a great effort from everyone, especially Wiggs, Palmer and Dixon who had to play more minutes than they are used to playing," LaBarrie said.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at email@example.com.