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HOOPS ROUNDUP: Patriots win Walnut Grove tournament

LOGANVILLE -- The Heritage girl's basketball team didn't want to play the style of its opponent, North Oconee, in Friday's championship game of the Walnut Grove Christmas Classic. But everything turned out just fine for the Patriots.

Ajuana Dawkins scored nine points, on her way to tournament MVP honors, and Heritage slipped by North Oconee 30-27 for the tournament title. The Titans, who had their eight-game winning streak snapped, had a chance to pull even late, but missed a pair of potential-tying shots.

"(North Oconee) kept it a very low scoring game, we kind of played their style of basketball, not wanting to, but it worked out in our favor," said Heritage coach Chris Pennamon, whose team has won eight of its last nine games. "We had some dead legs in this game (but) it was very nice tournament, had some girls step up big in this tournament. We still have to come together, still a little organized chaos ... we're getting there."

Along with Dawkins' MVP trophy, Adelia Hardaway also made the all-tournament team for the Patriots.

Walnut Grove 61, Eastside boys 42

The Eagles fell in the championship game as the hosts, ranked No. 10 in Class AAA, completed an impressive run, winning three tournament games by an average margin of 17.6 points.

Eastside, which needed overtime to beat Monroe Area in Thursday's semifinals, fell to 4-8.

Heritage boys 65, North Oconee 32

Rashad Jones refused to let the losing streak for the Heritage boy's basketball team continue any longer. The freshman guard scored 21 points, including six 3-pointers, as the Patriots snapped a seven-game losing streak with an easy victory over North Oconee in the seventh-place game of the Walnut Grove Christmas Classic.

After a blowout loss to Eagle's Landing on Nov. 29, Heritage (3-9) dropped six straight by a combined 17 points, but were never threatened in Friday's consolation game. Jones hit four from behind the arc in the first half as the Patriots went into the locker room up 34-12. Jones hit two more in the third, the last of which was several feet behind the three-point line with two seconds left to push the lead out to 54-20.

"We've talked to (Jones) a lot about how he needs to have a scorer's mentality. I think he realizes that potential," said Heritage coach Drew Williams. "He was that guy tonight. We get him going, we get everyone going."

In the lopsided victory, that included Steven Everson, who added 10 points, Shon Pittman, who drained a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and Ryien Bonner (seven second-half points) as Williams got a chance to see nearly every player on the roster.

"I think there was a lot of focus, I think we played all the way through," said Williams, who saw his team lose the first two games of the tournament to Winder-Barrow and Ola by a combined five points. "The whole focus at halftime was, 'Don't let up.' I don't think we did. They came back and competed. For a young team, that's impressive. (And) a win's good."

Eastside girls 48, Winder-Barrow 43

The Eastside girl's also salvaged a pair of victories after losing in Wednesday's opening round, including Friday's win over Winder-Barrow in the fifth-place game.

Senior forward Alexia Somerset had an excellent all-around game, scoring a game-high 27 points to go along with 14 rebounds and a pair of assists. Somerset was particularly dominant in the fourth quarter, scoring nine points and grabbing a number of key rebounds, while Eastside (7-4) saw a seven-point lead nearly disappear, then went up by the final margin thanks to a field goal by Somerset off an inbounds pass from Jymara Smith with less than 20 seconds to play.

Winder-Barrow was led by Delorean Itabiyi, who had 15 points and seven rebounds, and Jasmine Maske, who chipped in with nine points and eight rebounds.