Trailing as many as 12 points early in the 4th quarter Friday night, the Hendersonville men’s basketball team rallied back for a 59-58 overtime thriller over Mountain Heritage in the opening battle of the Western Highlands Conference for 2012-2013. The Bearcats shot a sizzling percentage from the three point line to defeat the Cougars.Hendersonville senior guard Rishad Felton had a career-high 40 points, including 12 3-pointers, lifting the Bearcats to the win in Burnsville. Felton's final 3 of the night fell in at the buzzer in overtime.
In the four minute overtime period the Cougars controlled the basketball and ran the clock down to under a minute. After missing the front end of a one and one, Heritage got another shot at the basket after a steal by sophomore Avery Austin.
Coming out of a timeout, the Cougars put the ball in the hands of Grant Buckner who drove the lane and got to the foul line after being hacked by the Bearcats with 4.8 seconds remaining in OT. Buckner calmly drilled both foul shots and Heritage appeared to be in the driver’s seat.
But a Felton rainbow from half court drained the net and the Bearcats (4-2, 1-0) escaped with the one point win.
Heritage (4-4, 0-1) led 45-34 following a baseline jumper by Avery Austin on the Cougar’s first trip up the court in the 4th quarter. The Cougars were in front 56-53 after two free throws by Grant Buckner with 13 seconds remaining in regulation. But Felton, who scored 18 fourth quarter points, hit the final shot to send the game into extra frames tied at 56-56.
Mountain Heritage kicked off the game with a 15 point first quarter and led the Bearcats by one at the break.
The Cougars got balanced scoring from all five starters in what was a total team effort in the WHC opener. Grant Buckner led the way with 13 points while Avery Austin added 11, Tim Hensley and Brandon Brown chipped in 9 points apiece and Will Buckner and Bob Taylor added in 7 points each.
In a home game with Enka on Tuesday, the Cougars and the Jets traded baskets in the opening eight minutes of play before the Cougars began to pull away.
Heritage ran off ten unanswered points to start the second quarter to construct a seemingly comfortable lead. Heritage led 21-8 following a bank shot by Grant Buckner with two minutes remaining the half. But Enka stormed back with the help of the three point line to trim the Cougar lead to 21-16 at the intermission.
The Cougars continued to stay hot from the outside and with the scoring of Brandon Brown, Grant Buckner and Avery Austin Heritage was able to stretch the lead out to double digits heading into the final stanza.
The Jets got within nine points of the Cougars early in the 4th quarter but would get no closer as Heritage put an exclamation point on the 46-34 victory with a Bob Taylor dunk with a 1:13 to play in the non-conference contest.
Grant Buckner, Brandon Brown and Tim Hensley all tallied 11 points each to pace the Cougar scoring attack.
Heritage will be back in action Thursday night when Polk County comes to Burnsville for a Western Highlands Conference game.