CONYERS - The Heritage basketball teams started their week of county rivalry road tests with a sweep at Rockdale on Tuesday night.
In the boys game, Juron Dobbs scored a game-high 25 points and added 11 rebounds as the Patriots (17-5 overall, 6-1 in Region 8-AAAA South) swept the season series from the Bulldogs (11-8, 4-3) with a 68-49 victory.
The Heritage boys also maintained their one-game lead over Cedar Shoals in the subregion standings. Rockdale is now third, two games behind Heritage and one behind Cedar. The Bulldogs play Cedar Shoals in Athens on Friday night.
In the girls game, the Lady Patriots (17-4, 7-0) shook off a slow start to also notch a regular season sweep with a 53-31 decision over the Lady Bulldogs (6-13, 2-5).
With the victory, the Heritage girls maintained their one-game lead over Salem. The county rivals square off at 7 p.m. Friday on the Lady Seminoles' home floor.
Heritage 68, Rockdale 49
The Patriots took the lead in the first half as the Bulldogs struggled with their shooting.
Neither team shot the ball well in the first quarter - Heritage 25 percent and Rockdale 7.7 percent - but the Patriots were able to build an 11-3 advantage.
In the second quarter, Justin Jones and Dobbs both scored six points for Heritage, extending the lead to 28-19 by halftime.
But Rockdale made its run in the third quarter. Darius McKnight started and ended a 7-0 run with free throws sandwiched around a Duane Ferrell jumper and a Jonathan Gissentaner 3-pointer, slicing the Bulldogs' deficit to 34-31 with 3:29 left in the period.
However, in what became a theme for the night, whenever Heritage needed a big shot, Dobbs came through. His strong drive and free throw for a three-point play just 29 seconds later gave the Patriots some breathing room.
"Juron is just an outstanding player, and there's no doubt about that," Heritage coach Ron Bradley said. "It's hard to keep him hemmed up the whole ball game. Of course, we have enough other guys that you have to worry about them, too."
Ferrell's 16-foot jumper cut Heritage's lead to 38-35, but then Dobbs started a 6-0 run to close out the quarter with a free throw.
Shakeem Mitchell extended the run with a 3-point bomb from the left corner and Key Wade finished it off on a 10-footer from the basline off a Dobbs' assist, restoring Heritage's lead to nine points at 44-35.
"They cut it to three there and we increased back to nine by the end of the quarter," Bradley said. "They put enough heat on us that we could have gotten tight. But I thought our guys just responded and went right back to work."
The 6-0 run got even bigger in the fourth quarter. Dobbs scored six of Heritage's first 10 point in the frame, finishing off a 16-5 run that essentially put the game with another strong drive to the basket.
When the run was over, the Patriots held a comfortable 54-40 advantage with less than five minutes to play.
The deciding factor in the game was shooting. Heritage rebounded from its bad first quarter to shoot 55 percent from the field in the second half, while Rockdale shot just 30.5 percent for the game.
"We shot 55 percent in the second half, and we had a good second quarter, even though we didn't do anything in the first quarter," Bradley said. "Something that we're proud of is none of the last four teams (we've played) has gotten out of the 40s on us. We kind of don't talk about our defense enough, but our team has been playing some good defense."
Wade added 16 points for the Patriots, while Mitchell chipped in 14 points and seven rebounds. Jones finished with eight points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Gissentaner paced the Bulldogs with 15 points. McKnight added nine points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.
Heritage 53, Rockdale 31
After falling behind 7-2 in the first quarter, the Lady Patriots went on an 8-1 to close the period and take a 10-8 advantage.
In the second quarter, Heritage extended its lead with a pair of runs. First, the Lady Patriots outscored the Lady Bulldogs 7-2 to start the frame and they followed it up with a 9-3 run to finish it.
Trailing 26-15 at halftime, the Lady Bulldogs sliced their deficit to seven on Keeisha Foreman's steal and layup at the 6:42 mark of the third period.
But Heritage's Zaneta Gray hit three 3-pointers and Neicey Lewis added one over a stretch of three minutes, as the Lady Patriots pulled away.
Lewis paced Heritage with 15 points and nine rebounds. Sarah Herrington added 13 points, while Gray finished with 11. Precious Elkins chipped in eight points and a team-high 12 rebounds.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.