Two free throws with 1.2 seconds left on the clock proved to be the margin of victory as the Heritage Generals improved to 5-0 in Region 7-AAAA with a thrilling 54-53 home victory over Central-Carroll on Tuesday night.
A tight game throughout, the Generals enjoyed a 29-21 lead at halftime, only to see the Lions chip away at the deficit in the second half.
Pressure defense by Central and a shooting cold spell by Heritage allowed the Lions to take a four-point lead late. The Generals would get a couple of big steals down the stretch, but they still trailed 53-52 with seven seconds remaining when they were forced to put the visitors on the line.
Despite having made their first 12 free throws on the night, the Lions would miss the front end of the one-and-one. Heritage was then able to get the ball into the hands of Cooper Terry, who drove the ball strong to the basket. The senior was able to draw a foul before stepping to the line and hitting both free throws, lifting his team to the victory.
Terry finished with 21 points for the Generals (7-4 overall). Carson Palmer had 11 points and Mitchell Kennedy added seven. Kaden Swope, making his long-awaited season debut after finally recovering from a football injury, finished with six points, followed by Ty Loveless with five and Luke Thacker with four.
Heritage went 10 of 13 at the charity stripe and connected on six 3-pointers.
Ten different players scored for Central, led by 13 points from Brian Bain. The Lions finished 12 of 13 at the line with five 3-pointers on the night.
COVID issues forced the girls' game to be postponed until a later date.
Both Heritage varsity teams will be in action on Friday when they travel to Ridgeland for a pair of region games, starting at 7 p.m. Heritage will also play at home on Saturday versus Gordon Lee, starting with the girls' varsity game at 6.