DACULA - Heritage used a 25-point fourth quarter and overcame a seven-point deficit to beat Loganville 52-46 Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Region 8-AAAA tournament at Dacula High School.
The Lady Patriots (19-6) ended an eight-year state playoff drought with the victory. Heritage advances to play Clarke Central, a 57-50 winner over Dacula on Wednesday, in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Lady Patriots last earned a trip to the postseason back in the 1998-99 season under the direction of coach Jack Roberts. It was Heritage's only girls basketball state playoff berth in school history until Dave LaBarrie's squad matched the feat with their fourth-quarter comeback.
Meanwhile, the Salem boys (9-18) saw their season come to a heartbreaking end as they blew a 13-point fourth quarter lead, losing to Cedar Shoals 59-54.
In the girls game, the Lady Patriots started off missing four of their first five shots. But midway through the quarter, Heritage found its rhythm, outscoring Loganville 9-5 over the final three minutes.
The teams were tied 13-13 after one period and 23-23 at halftime.
Loganville came out showing full-court pressure to start the second half, and Heritage struggled to score.
The Lady Red Devils built a four-point lead and continued to pressure Heritage on both ends of the floor. Heritage trailed 34-27 heading into the final frame.
After scoring just four points in the third quarter, Heritage got it going in the fourth. Down 38-32, Heritage forced four straight turnovers and scored the next nine points to take a 41-38 with 3:12 remaining.
Up by two points with 1:05 to play, Precious Elkins scored in the post to extend Heritage's lead. The Lady Patriots never looked back.
"We got easier baskets in the fourth (quarter)," LaBarrie said. "We kept going inside, and we put an extra guard on the floor to handle the ball. We started penetrating and got some big baskets. We got a couple of layups and then Precious Elkins gave us a great fourth quarter, and that turned it around for us."
Elkins led Heritage with 18 points, while Neicey Lewis added 15.
In the Salem game, the Seminoles looked poised for a berth in the state tournament, until they were unable to handle Cedar Shoals' full-court pressure in the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars outscored the Seminoles 24-9 in the final frame, sending coach Darren Wilkins' players home with a bad taste in their mouths.
"We just lost our composure," he said. "Instead of playing to win, we played not to lose. Instead of staying aggressive, because we had them on their heels, we didn't throw the knockout blow when we had them on the ropes. When you have somebody down, you have to take them out."
Salem started strong, building a 14-8 advantage in the first quarter. Cedar Shoals came back in the second period, but Salem led by two at halftime.
Zach Roddenberry had eight of his game-high 23 points in the third quarter and Salem extended its lead to 10 going into the final frame.
Roddenberry pushed Salem's lead to 13 in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter with a three-point play, but the Jaguars responded with a diamond press and forced three straight Seminole turnovers.
The Jaguars went on an 11-1 run over a four-minute stretch in the period to cut Salem's led to one, and were able to tie the game at 52 with 1:21 remaining.
Cedar Shoals scored four unanswered points and Salemmissed three straight shots. Six fourth-quarter turnovers and only one field goal were more than the Seminoles could overcome.
Rodenberry's 23 points led all scorers, while Jeffery Burton led the way for Cedar Shoals with 13.