ATLANTA - The Heritage girls basketball squad walked off the court champions of the DeKalb County Holiday Tournament after topping Lithonia 47-34 Tuesday evening at Cross Keys High School.
"I think the second half we stepped it up," Heritage coach Dave LaBarrie said. "We got in foul trouble with Sarah (Herrington) and Jana (Dixon), and that made us cautious. But we still were able to come back with a lead in the second half and build on it, and pretty much maintain the rest of the game."
Heritage quickly jumped to a 10-0 start in the opening quarter thanks to two 3-pointers by Herrington and field goals by Shaddai Wiggs and Jasmine Middlebrooks.
"It actually was real important," LaBarrie said of the fast start, "because if we hadn't had that lead, it probably would have been much more of a struggle all the way."
Another field goal by Herrington soon made it 12-3.
However, Lithonia then went on a 5-0 run before Heritage's Anraya Palmer found a wide-open Dixon under the rim for two to end the first quarter.
"Well, at first we got off to a rough start," said Dixon, who finished with a game-high 19 points and 21 rebounds. "I knew I wasn't playing up to my potential, and my teammates started pushing me."
Heritage's lead swelled to 10 late in the second quarter after a free throw by Wiggs, making it 23-13.
Wiggs finished with 10 points and eight boards.
"Winning this whole tournament means the next level for us," Middlebrooks said, who ended with four points and five rebounds.
Although the closest Lithonia came was within six with five minutes and 31 seconds to go in the second, by halftime Heritage led 23-14.
Dixon scored the first five points of the third to help preserve a 34-23 advantage entering the final quarter. She added four more field goals in the fourth, tallying eight of Heritage's 13 points scored.
Overall, Lithonia scored 13 points off 15 turnovers.
Nicole Antoine led the Lady Bulldogs with 15 points. Jasmine Grayson added 12.
"It definitely boosts our confidence, but we know we have a lot of work to do though because the competition is going to be higher," Herrington said. "Now we know our strengths and weaknesses going into the second half of the season.
"We know what we need to work on and what to improve."
Jason Murdock can be reached at email@example.com.