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Cougars win/loose close conference games 
by David Grindstaff
david@wkyk.com
The Lady Cougars won two big time confidence booster games this week with a solid win over Avery County on Tuesday in Newland and a heart stopping victory over Madison at home on Friday.
In Newland the Lady Cougars earned a 23-19 lead after the first two quarters of play as Nyssa Freeman on the outside, and Destiny Elkins, on the inside, kept Heritage in the game.
The Lady Cougars, who connected on 5 three pointers in the game, hit 12 of 22 free throws in the contest with Nyssa Freeman connecting on 13 free tosses, 10 in  a row at one point to lead Heritage in scoring with 19 points. She also grabbed six rebounds and dished out 4 assist.
Freeman’s overall performance, especially at the line, helped the Lady Cougars pull away from the Vikings while Elkins did most of her damage in the paint, scoring 15 points against Avery County’s vaunted defense.
Abby Bailey did her part. She hit two three pointers and added 8 points and 4 rebounds while Kendyl Neill chipped in seven points and two assists in the 51-44 win.
The Lady Cougars (12-2, 6-0 WHC) got off to a good start against the Lady Patriots (10-5, 3-3) at home on Friday, constructing an eight point lead by the intermission behind solid play from the starting five, Nyssa Freeman, Abby Bailey, Abby Renfro, Kendyl Neill and Destiny Elkins.
The Lady Patriots scored the first six points of the second half and forced a Lady Cougar timeout by Coach Susie Shelton. The two teams traded baskets after that as Madison tied the affair up at 32-32 going into the final eight minutes of play with a late basket in the third quarter.
In the 4th the Lady Cougars broke the Lady Viking three-quarter court press and pushed the ball inside to Destiny Elkins who responded with a game high 22 points. But in spite of Elkins stellar inside work, the Lady Cougars found themselves tied with their foes from Marshall with less than ten seconds left to play.
Heritage made their last shot count as Abby Bailey grabbed a missed shot and swished a ten foot jumper from the right wing with around two seconds left to give the Lady Cougars the dramatic win.
Bailey finished with 6 points while Nyssa Freeman added eight.
The Cougars suffered a heartbreaking loss in Newland Tuesday night when Avery County’s Jacob Waldroop hit a short jumper at the buzzer to give the Vikings a 54-52 win.
Heritage trailed 52-49 with 1:20 left to play but tied things up with 3.2 seconds left on a Luke Antinori three pointer.
Avery, who led by five going into the 4th quarter, saw Avery Austin knot things up with a three pointer with six minutes to go and neither team led by more than five points the rest of the way.
Austin and Grant Buckner each tallied 17 points to pace the Cougar scoring while Luke Antinori finished with 8.
When the Patriots invaded the Pitt on Friday night the Cougars were not ready and fell behind 20-10 after the first eight minutes of play behind a three point barrage by the Patriots.
But the Cougars settled down in the second quarter and stopped the Patriots high scoring offense in its tracks holding them to only five points in the second quarter.
After trailing the Patriots 25-16 at the half, the Cougars owned the third quarter and managed to tie things up at 33-33 heading into the 4th behind strong play by Luke Antinori and Colton Garland.
Heritage outscored Madison 21-12 in the final eight minutes to win 54-45.
Colton Garland led the team with 14 points and 8 rebounds, including two three pointers, while Luke Antinori had a pair of threes as well and finished with 12 points and 5 rebounds. Alex Cash added 9 points and a steal and Avery Austin scored six on an off night shooting the basketball for the Cougars leading scorer who is averaging 21.1 points per game so far.
The Cougars hit the boards hard, tallying 34 rebounds with Grant Buckner leading the way with 9 followed by Job Kennedy with 7 caroms.
Heritage will travel to Hendersonville on Tuesday and will host Polk County on Friday night.

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