Inside play key to Heritage wins over Alcovy

CONYERS - The Heritage Patriots reached the halfway point of the subregion schedule in first place Tuesday.

Both squads featured strong inside games in their sweep of visiting Alcovy.

In the girls game, sophomore Jana Dixon took advantage of a rare start, scoring 20 points to lead the Lady Patriots (15-4 overall, 5-0 8-AAAA South) to a 60-37 victory over the Lady Tigers (1-15, 1-4).

In the boys game, junior center Justin Jones collected 23 points and 13 rebounds as Heritage (15-5, 4-1) finished off the sweep with a 66-44 win over Alcovy (5-11, 1-4) in the nightcap.

The Heritage girls seized control of their game in the first quarter, building a 22-7 lead. Dixon, who started in place of an ill Precious Elkins, scored eight points in the first quarter.

But Alcovy stayed within striking distance thanks to the play of Tiffany Moody, who finished with a team-high 17 points, 10 rebounds and three steals.

Early in the third quarter, the Lady Tigers crept to within in eight points. However, Heritage's Jasmine Middlebrooks ignited a 22-7 run with five quick points.

"We kind of dropped our level of play and we had to deal with that," Heritage coach Dave LaBarrie said. "We kept the lead and I don't think there was ever any doubt as to what the outcome of the game would be.

"We've got five more to go (in the subregion). I'm keeping that in mind all the time. We have to go to Salem and Rockdale, so we've got some tough games ahead."

In the fourth quarter, Dixon got involved again for the Lady Patriots, scoring 10 of her 20 points to help seal the victory.

Sarah Herrington added 17 points for Heritage, while Neicey Lewis finished with 10 points, six steals and six assists.

In the boys game, Heritage took control in the second quarter when its front line stepped up.

With the Patriots in front 18-14, Jones and Juron Dobbs combined for an 11-3 run that gave their squad some breathing room.

Not to be outdone, Heritage forward Shakeem Mitchell got in the front line act late in the half, scoring four quick points as the Patriots took a 35-21 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, the Tigers rallied to slice their deficit to seven points on a three-point play from Kevin Boyle and a 3-pointer from Ross Bagley.

But Jones and crew went back to work for Heritage. The junior center scored 12 of his 23 points in the second half and grabbed eight of his 13 rebounds in the fourth quarter.

"Any of these subregion wins are good wins," Heritage boys coach Ron Bradley said. "It was sort of physical. They got after us pretty hot and heavy and chased us from one of the end the court to the other end. But our guys persevered. I thought Justin had a great game. I believe he had eight rebounds in the fourth quarter, and he fouled out. If he had been in there, he'd have gotten a couple more."

Dobbs also got into the act, scoring 11 of his 20 points in the second half. He also had a double-double with 10 rebounds.

Mitchell also scored 17 points for Heritage.

Worrel Clahar had a tough night for the Tigers, tossing a team-high 13 points on 3-for-14 shooting. Clahar was a focal point of the Heritage defense throughout the game.

"Our defense was geared to him (Clahar)," Bradley said. "We knew where he was and he never did take over the game. I thought we did a good job on him."

Cody Edwards added 10 points for the Tigers.

Jeff Gillespie can be reached at jeff.gillespie@rockdalecitizen.com.