Cougars win thrillers-Ladies remain unbeaten in WHC email@example.com by David Grindstaff
Mountain Heritage used home court to their advantage this week in pulling off two last second wins over Western Highlands Conference foes Hendersonville and Polk County.
Tuesday night in Burnsville , Heritage was leading Hendersonville 37-36 at halftime before the defending conference champions went on a 18-16 run in the third quarter to grab a slim 54-53 lead going into the final eight minutes of play.
The back and forth continued right up until the end of the game when Heritage (8-8, 6-2) took a one point lead with six seconds left on a basket by Avery Austin and then the Cougars had to fend off a last second shot by WNC’s leading scorer Cody Westmorland who missed two shots before the horn sounded after the Bearcats hurried the ball up court with two quick passes.
Avery Austin led Heritage with a game-high 29 points and 5 steals, and Job Kennedy had his best game as a Cougar with 23 points and a team high 8 rebounds. It was Kennedy’s work around the basket that kept the Cougars in the game in the first half as the sophomore netted 14 of his points in the opening 16 minutes of play.
Grant Buckner added 9 points and two steals and two assist to the winning effort.
Westmorland finished with 21 for the Bearcats (4-12, 2-6).
On Friday night Polk County(4-10, 0-6) invaded the Cougars home court and almost came home with an upset win.
The Wolverines came to play and fought to a draw for most of the first half before pulling ahead by two points 40-38 at the half.
Heritage mustered a run in the third quarter behind the scoring of Avery Austin who tallied 22 of his season high 40 points in the second half.
The Cougars led 60-53 going into the 4th and with baskets by Austin, Job Kennedy, Grant Buckner, Shelby Silver and Luke Antinori in the final stanza they were able to fend off the Bearcats down the stretch.
Austin connected on 12 field goals in the contest; including six of his eight three point attempts while also grabbing seven rebounds. Buckner finished with 14 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists while Luke Antinori added 7 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals to the effort.
Job Kennedy did his part with 10 points and six rebounds and Shelby Silver scored 4 points and had two steals.
The Lady Cougars maintained their hold on first place in the WHC standings with solid wins over both Hendersonville and Polk County last week.
Heritage (14-2, 8-0) toyed with Hendersonville in the first quarter before putting the game away by halftime with a strong surge in the second stanza led by the scoring of Nyssa Freeman and Destiny Elkins.
Heritage led just 13-8 after the first seven minutes but with up-tempo defense and some good work on the boards the Lady Cougars were able to extend their led to 32-17 by the break.
Nyssa Freeman tied a school record with six three pointers in the game. She led all scorers with 22 pointers while Destiny Elkins continued her solid performance in the paint with twenty points.
Abby Bailey and Hunter young scored five points apiece for the Lady Cougars in the victory over the Bearcats who had no one reach double figures in scoring against the Cougar defense.
It was the scoring combination of Freeman and Elkins that once again overwhelmed a league opponent when the Lady Wolverines visited Mountain Heritage on Friday.
Just like in the Hendersonville game, the Lady Cougars were a little off their mark in the first half but they found their target in the second.
Heritage managed to take a 22-17 lead into the dressing room at the break but saw a pesky Polk club regain the lead 35-33 going into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Cougars cranked up their vaunted pressure defense in the final eight minutes of play and outscored Polk 15-2 to win the game 48-37.
Elkins finished with 18 points to lead the team in scoring while Freeman netted 15 and Kendyl Neill added nine.
The Cougars will continue WHC play this week at Owen on Tuesday.