Cougars Fall In Finals On Last Second Shot 2-25-13
Cougars gain valuable experience in WHC Tournament
It had been over two months since the Mountain Heritage men’s basketball team suffered a disappointing loss to the Hendersonville Bearcats on a last second shot in the Western Highlands Conference opener in Burnsville. This past Friday night at the Mitchell High Gym the Cougars got a sense of déjà vu after falling to the 1A Bearcats in a similar fashion in the tournament championship finals.
The Cougars and Bearcats battled back and forth in the title contest as the lead swapped hands just about every other time up the court with#2 seed Heritage leading by five after the first seven minutes of play and #1 seed Hendersonville taking a lead late in the 4th quarter.
The Cougars battled on the boards and put themselves in a position to send the game into overtime following a basket by senior Tim Hensley who split two Bearcat defenders and laid the ball in to knot the score at 50-50 with 1.7 seconds remaining in regulation.
The made shot by Hensley forced the Bearcats to inbounds the ball underneath their own basket, make a full court pass and hope that they had enough time to get a shot off.
Hendersonville executed the inbounds play perfectly as Shawn Rogers, a wide receiver on the Bearcat football team, hauled in a pass just inside the three point line on the left side deep in the corner. The senior guard banked a shot off the window in the glass and the Bearcats won the game and the tourney championship in dramatic fashion.
The Cougars got great play from the point in the championship game as junior Grant Buckner scored a season high 20 points to lead the team. Tim Hensley finished with 8 points, as did Avery Austin while Lucas King pitched in 7 points from his guard position as the Bearcats shut down the Cougar’s inside game, holding Heritage big men Will Buckner and Bob Taylor to 4 points total.
The Cougars advanced to the tile contest with another buzzer beater performance in the semi-finals against #6 seed Owen.
In a game that saw the lead change hands eight times in the first half alone, the Cougars had to fend off an aggressive Warhorse comeback down the stretch and hit a last second shot to pull out an 81-79 victory.
Leading by nine points going into the final stanza, the Cougars saw Owen regain the lead 72-71 with a minute and half left in regulation. The score was tied at 79-79 with 5.7 seconds left following two free throws by Owen leading scorer Michael Pomeroy.
Following a time out by Heritage Coach Hank Newson, the Cougars in bounded the basketball to senior Lucas King who dribbled the length of the court and put up a shot that bounced off the glass where junior Will Buckner scooped up the misfire and banked in the winning shot as the horn sounded to give Heritage a two point win.
Will Buckner led three Cougar players scoring in double figures against the Warhorses. The 6’7” post player netted 21 points while guards Grant Buckner and Brandon Brown contributed 15 and 14 points respectively in the important win.
Heritage saw the host Mountaineers jump to a 6-2 lead in their opening round game on Monday night. But by the end of the first quarter the Cougars were tied up 9-9 following a late basket by Will Buckner.
Mitchell’s big men, Austin Mask and Michael Vaughn helped the Mountaineers push the lead back to eight points in the second quarter before the Cougars were able to pull even at 25-25 at the intermission.
In the decisive third quarter, the Cougars, behind the scoring of Will Buckner (17 points), Grant Buckner (15 points) and Tim Hensley (11 points), out pointed Mitchell 25-15 to pull away and hang on for a 63-52 victory.
For their outstanding play in the tournament, Cougars Will Buckner and Grant Buckner were voted to the All-Tournament team along with Mitchell’s Austin Mask, Thomas Jefferson’s Nathanial Devon, Polk’s Jamal Tanner, Owen’s Michael Pomeroy, Madison’s Josh Rice, Avery’s Chance Watson and Hendersonville’s Victor Mendoza, Shawn Rogers and tourney MVP Rashad Felton.
The Cougars will now face off against the Warhorses again in the opening round of the NCHSAA 2A Sectional tournament which gets underway on Monday. Heritage will host Owen in a contest scheduled for 8 p.m. Come out and show your support as the Cougars take a step into state championship competition.
By David Grindstaff