The Mountain Heritage varsity boys basketball team hopes to head into next week’s Western Highlands Conference tournament at Mitchell with momentum as they wrap up the regular season with a visit to Madison in the regular season finale on Tuesday.
The Cougars, who are 17-7 overall and 11-3 in league competition, were led by the inside play of Will Buckner and Bob Taylor in a 54-30 rout of Mitchell on senior night in Burnsville on Tuesday. Buckner scored 14 points and Taylor added 12 as both Cougar big men dominated the glass and the defensive end of the court with several blocked and altered shots apiece as Heritage led from start to finish.
Avery Austin and Grant Buckner also had big games for the Cougars on the perimeter adding 11 and 8 points respectively in the win over their cross county rivals. Corey Blevins led the Mountaineers with 11 points as the teams only double figure scorer.
Both teams struggled to score out of the gate as Heritage managed a 9-5 lead after the first eight minutes but by halftime the Cougars had stretched the lead out to 15 points with the help of an aggressive defense and several Mountaineer turnovers.
The Cougars doubled up the score on the Vikings in the first quarter of their WHC contest in Newland on Friday night, but a four minute scoring drought by the Cougars in the second stanza allowed Avery to pull ahead 25-19 at the half on a last second jump shot.
Heritage managed to trim the lead back to six points by the end of the third quarter with a 7-2 run over the last 3:30.
The Cougars continued to fight in the 4th quarter and tied the score at 40-40 on a free throw by Bob Taylor with 4:13 left, but Avery County made five key free throws in the final minute to hang on for a 51-46 upset victory.
Will Buckner scored 15 points to pace the Cougars who got 11 points from Bob Taylor and 8 points from Grant Buckner in the disappointing loss.
The WHC Tournament gets underway on Tuesday February 19 at Mitchell High.
By David Grindstaff