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WAKE FOREST - Heritage's boys basketball team had a week to remember as they defeated their rival Wake Forest 80-65 Tuesday and then took down Rolesville 69-66 on a half-court buzzer-beater Friday Jan. 24.
Lucas Taylor made all of the big plays for the Huskies this week. The junior guard led the way with 32 points in the win at Wake Forest and he made the half-court buzzer-beater to win the game against Rolesville at home.
"Every game matters," Taylor said. "It doesn't matter who we're playing. Every conference team is going to give us their best shot."
In the road win at Wake Forest, the game started off close with Heritage taking a narrow 15-14 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Huskies expanded that lead after dropping 24 points in the second period to go into halftime up 39-36.
In the second half, Heritage stepped up on defense, while also staying consistent on offense. The Huskies outscored the Cougars 21-14 in the third quarter and 20-15 in the fourth to end the night with an 80-65 victory.
With the win, Heritage improved to 10-7 overall and are tied with Knightdale for first place in the NAC 6 conference standings at 4-1. Knightdale's only conference loss was to Rolesville, a team Heritage recently defeated.
Buzzer-beater sinks Rolesville in thrilling finish
Rolesville held a 19-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. Heritage fought back and took their first lead of the night at 27-23. The Huskies went into halftime up 30-28.
In the third quarter, Heritage pulled away with their biggest lead of the game at 39-31. However, Rolesville stuck with them and the end of the quarter score was 49-43 with the Huskies barely ahead.
The fourth period was when things got more interesting. There were 10 lead changes throughout the quarter. No one could make a stop defensively.
With 14 seconds left, Heritage's Redford Dunton hit a 3-pointer to tie the match at 66-66 off an assist from Tre Waller. The junior forward finished the night with a game-high 20 points.
"We had a mismatch and so we took advantage of our opportunities," Dunton said. "Tre put the ball in the right spot. I thank the coaching staff for trusting me in that position."
Rolesville took over with one last possession. However, Waller knocked the ball out of the hands of Rolesville's Brandon Williams. Taylor pounced on it and drove the ball up the court. With time running out, the guard pulled up a shot from half-court.
The buzzer sounded and the ball went into the net. The home crowd went wild and stormed the court. Heritage won 69-66.
"Tre played great on-ball defense on that play," Taylor said. "He stepped up big for us. He stayed in front of his man to get the turnover and I was able to grab the ball and make the shot."
Heritage head coach Tilden Brill praised his players for keeping their composure down the stretch, which led to the buzzer-beater play.
"I thought our mental toughness was great tonight," Brill said. "Sometimes in past games like this, we would have faltered. We had the student section the Hooligans behind us. The players dug deep. Lucas hit that big-time play."
Taylor's buzzer-beater gave him 17 points to end the night. Waller contributed with 12 points, including two 3-pointers. Kaleb Hedgepeth also chipped in with seven points, including a monster dunk in the first quarter.
"Sharing the ball is something we've been working on all season," Brill said. "We haven't done it very well at points this season. It was good to see that mentality tonight. Good defense leads to good offense. It was a good high school game."
Dunton talked about how he and the rest of his teammates were able to battle against a tough Rolesville defense all night long.
"Coach Brill preaches every day that we have to have poise," Dunton said. "We're just trying to get better every day."
With the loss, Rolesville dropped to 11-6 overall and 2-2 in NAC 6 conference play. Their other conference loss was to Wakefield, a team they are currently battling with for third place in the conference.
"I thought it was a pretty even-matched game," Jordan said. "We made a few mistakes on the defensive end. That last turnover hurt us. We know it's a tough conference. We almost pulled it out tonight, but hopefully we can learn from our mistakes and get better as a team."
Rolesville rebounded Tuesday with a 75-66 win over Corinth Holders at home. The Rams need to beat Wakefield Friday Jan. 31 at home in order to move ahead of them in the conference standings.
"We've got to work on situational basketball," Jordan said. "We could have played a little bit tighter down the stretch. We gave Heritage too much space and let them hit big 3-pointers. I think this experience will be helpful for us."
As for Heritage, they are forming a hot streak with back-to-back wins after a 66-59 loss to Knightdale on the road Jan. 17. Brill said he knows what the team needs to work on in order to win the NAC 6.
"We've got to figure out how to rebound the basketball at a higher rate," Brill said. "We do a good job with our first shot defense. If we can share the basketball the way that we did tonight, the offensive assets will put up some big numbers."
Heritage will play at Corinth Holders Friday Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m.
"We just have to have tunnel vision," Dunton said. "We're moving on to the next game. If we handle our business, everything will be alright."