MONROEVILLE – After giving up 25 points in the first half Saturday night, the Heritage Patriots agreed at halftime that they wanted to hold South Adams to a final score of 40 points.
The Patriots (7-3, 1-0 ACAC) pulled that off despite playing 4 minutes of overtime to win their first conference game 45-40.
“I think it's a big confidence win for us, especially being able to battle with a good team like South Adams. They are clearly well-coached,” Heritage coach Nicole Sisson said. “It was a battle, and to win in overtime and be as defensively solid as we were, it's a good feeling.”
After a 3-pointer by South Adams' Kristen Wynn tied the game at 37, the Starfires (5-1, 1-1) came out of a timeout with 20.7 seconds left in regulation to score the go-ahead basket. But while attempting to shift to her right, Peyton Pries tripped and fell, and the ball bounced loose. Heritage's Abby Zelt picked up the loose ball, and Sisson called a timeout to give Heritage a chance for its own winning basket.
But the Patriots also came up short. Kendall Zelt inbounded the ball to Shelby Schane on the Starfires' half of the court. Schane heaved the ball to Abby Zelt under the basket, but the buzzer sounded just before she got off the layup, which did go in. The refs had to quiet an ecstatic student section, and the Heritage coaches had to hurry their players back to the bench for overtime.
“It was a little difficult, because it was so close, and we really thought we had it. But we're really good at snapping back and getting our mind to where we need it to be to win the game,” Abby Zelt said.
Despite the disappointment that the basket did not count, Abby Zelt said the Patriots still felt like they had the momentum going into overtime. Kendall Zelt gave Heritage the lead with two free throws, only for Pries to tie the game once more at 39.
But that proved to be the final field goal of the night for the Starfires, and the Patriots outscored them 6-1.
Heritage once again appeared to be in danger when, inbounding the ball up 43-40 with 39.9 seconds to play, the Patriots were called for a foul after Lydia Schultz collided with South Adams' Macy Pries. But even though the Starfires got the ball back, their shot attempt missed, and Schane grabbed the rebound.
“That's a huge emphasis of our program. We know to compete we have to play good defense,” Sisson said. “Our goal in the second half was to hold them to 40, and we got 'er done, we got the win – in overtime.”