Gladiators upset Patriots in region tourney

DACULA - A promising season came to an abrupt end Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Region 8-AAAA basketball tournament as the No. 1-seeded Heritage boys were upset by Clarke Central 56-53.

It was a rough road from the beginning as the Gladiators opened the game with a 9-2 run.

Clarke hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter - three of which came from Sirnatra Lumpkin.

Lumpkin's second trey put Clarke up 15-5 with 2:23 left, while his third made it 18-8. Clarke led by 12 at the end of the first frame.

Halfway through the second quarter, it was obvious that Clarke was intent on denying the Patriots any inside game. The Gladiator defense was forcing the Patriots to shoot from the outside, but the shots weren't finding the inside of the rim.

Heritage did make a couple of buckets underneath at the end of the half, with the last one, a putback by Justin Jones, cutting Clarke's lead to 26-19 at the break.

The third quarter was all Heritage as the Patriots found the form that earned them the No. 1 seed in the South subregion.

Blake Craft's trey with 7:10 remaining in the third cut the deficit to four, 28-24.

Juron Dobbs made it a three-point game with 3:20 left, and his free throws two minutes later cut it to one, 39-38.

The Patriots' first lead of the game came with 30 seconds left off an acrobatic layup by Dobbs that made it 40-39.

Heritage outscored Clarke 21-13 in the third frame.

The Patriots came out quick in the fourth when Shakeem Mitchell's 3-pointer gave Heritage a three-point lead, 45-42, with 6:08 left to play.

However, Lumpkin caught fire again and hit his sixth and seventh 3-pointers of the game and the Gladiators went back on top 50-47 with 3:55 left on the clock.

Dobbs cut it to one, 52-51, with 55 seconds left, prompting Heritage to foul on the ensuing inbound pass.

After the next inbound pass, the Patriots did not foul. Instead, Clarke broke the press and scored easily underneath to go up 54-51 with 18.5 seconds left.

Dobbs scored again with 5 seconds left and Heritage quickly fouled on the next inbound.

However, Clarke's John Wilson hit both free throws and Dobbs' long-range 3-pointer at the buzzer was off by inches, giving Clarke a 56-53 win.

Clarke's Lumpkin led all scorers with 23 points, while Darrieon Robinson added 12.

Heritage was led by Dobbs with 19. Key Wade scored 13 and Mitchell added 10.

Brandon Evans can be reached at brandon.evans@rockdalecitizen.com.