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BOYS BASKETBALL: Late first-half run lifts Heritage past LaFayette

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RINGGOLD - There are 1,920 seconds in a regulation high school basketball game, but it only took 48 seconds on Tuesday for the Heritage Generals to make their move.

After trailing for much of the first half, Heritage (12-10, 6-3) erupted for seven points in the final 48 seconds of the first half, took their first lead, and rode the momentum to a 75-63 win over LaFayette on Senior Night.

The Ramblers (10-14, 2-8) scored 11 of the game's first 13 points and led 20-12 early in the second quarter. But back-to-back three-pointers by Jacob Carter and Isaiah Buchanan sliced LaFayette's lead down to two points, and the two teams would trade baskets for the better part of the next five minutes.

A Cody Sanders jump-hook in the lane tied the game at 28 with 48 seconds left in the half, and following a LaFayette miss, Sanders hit a runner with 10 seconds remaining to give the Generals their first lead of the night.

Then with the clock winding down, Jaylon Gaines stole the ball near mid-court, took two dribbles, and banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer to send his team sprinting to the locker room with a 33-28 advantage.

"That gave us a spark," Heritage head coach Kevin Terry said of the late first-half run. "We dug ourselves a hole and were down most of the first half, and then suddenly we're up five at halftime. That was huge to have that momentum going into the locker room and it gave us confidence for the second half."

The Generals built their lead to nine points in the first 1:30 of the third quarter, but the Ramblers refused to fold and sliced Heritage's lead back down to 48-46 with just under three minutes left in the period.

However, another three-pointer by Carter and a three-point play by Micah Smith pushed the advantage back to eight by the end of the period and Heritage would boost the lead to as many as 13 points in the fourth.

It was a balanced scoring night for the Generals. Sanders had 16 points while Carter scored 12 and connected on four of his team's eight three-pointers. Gaines had 11, including 6 of 8 free throw shooting in the final 2:30, Smith added nine, and Lee Gibson and Cameron Sherlin had eight apiece.

The Generals will face Northwest Whitfield on Thursday night in the regular season finale before heading to Dalton next week for the Region 7-AAAA tournament.

"I really feel like we're right there with the top teams in our subregion and right there with the teams in the other subregion," Terry added. "I think we can make some noise. Hopefully we can get a win at Northwest and give us some more momentum for next week."

Lance Estus had 17 points and seven rebounds for LaFayette in a losing effort. Clayton Underwood added 12 points. Tyler Shropshire had 10 points and seven boards, and Cody Dallas had a solid night with 14 points, including four of the Ramblers' nine threes, to go with eight assists and six rebounds.

"Heritage has been on a roll here at the end of the season and you saw that tonight," LaFayette head coach Tommy Swanson said. "We had them down early, but they fought their way back. That little run at the end of the firsthalf took the momentum away from us and we never got it back. Give them credit. They played well.

For the Ramblers, they will likely have to defeat Southeast Whitfield in a region tournament play-in game on Saturday to make it into the 7-AAAA tournament field.

"The tournament is a new ball game, and if there's ever a time to make a move, it's now," Swanson added. "Maybe we'll come out that first game, find a way to win, and keep moving on to the next one."