After picking up a win over Swain County in the Tuscola Christmas Tournamnet, the Cougars got back into Western Highlands Conference play on Friday night in a road trip to Owen High in Swannanoa.
It took Heritage a half a quarter to shake off a slow start and gain a working margin behind the energy of 6-1 senior wing Tim Hensley.
Hensley scored eight points in a 10-0 Cougar run after Owen had stormed to an early 8-2 lead following the opening tip in the varsity boys game.
It was a Hensley three pointer near the end of the first quarter that gave the Cougars their first lead of the game at 12-9.
Heritage constructed a 23-16 lead at the half as Grant Buckner, Bob Taylor and Brandon Brown got into the act and the Cougar defense forces the Warhorses into a number of turnovers which led to some easy fast break baskets.
Owen opened the second half as they had the first, running off the first six points of the third quarter to trim the Cougar lead to a single point.
But they would get no closer as five straight points by senior guard Lucas King sent the Cougars off on another scoring burst and Heritage led 33-26 with 3:30 left in the third.
Leading by five going into the 4th, Heritage covered up the defensive glass and pulled away from the Warhorses.
Two free throws by Avery Austin gave Heritage its biggest lead of the game of 15 points and the Cougars improved to 2-1 in league with a 55-45 victory.
The Cougars had three players to score in double figures in the important league win. Tim Hensley burned the nets for 15 points while Bob Taylor netted 11 and Will Buckner tallies 10.
Earlier in the week the Cougars played their final non-conference game of the season when they hosted 3A North Buncombe.
In a game that was energy charged and full of emotion and was hotly contested throughout, the Cougars and the Black Hawk went back and forth with North holding the upper hand at the half 22-16.
Heritage made a solid defensive effort in the third quarter to out score the Hawks 14-9 to start the second half to pull within a point heading into the final stanza.
The score stayed tight until a technical foul on the Cougars sparked a North Buncombe run that allowed then to pull away for a 53-46 victory.
Tim Hensley again led the scoring for the Cougars with 13 points while Bob Taylor chipped in 12 and Kaleb McCurry and Drew Brown added 5 points each.
This week Cougar teams continue WHC play when they host Thomas Jefferson on Tuesday and travel to Ledger on Friday for their opening game with the rival Mitchell Mountaineers.
Come out and be a part of the action as the Cougars try and continue their good start in conference play.
By David Grindstaffdavid@wkyk.com